Mother’s Day is just around the corner in North America. I remember that even as a child, the thought of an upcoming family celebration would make my tummy tickle with anticipation. Mother’s Day is no different in this respect. That is why I find it odd that I have no childhood memories of this particular festivity. I remember with great fondness the birthdays with the paper hats, candles, party games, cake and the Easters with the new bonnet, gloves, straw purse and Christmas stockings filled with the requisite Silly Putty and kaleidoscope. Why don’t I remember Mother’s Day?
My mom was all about doing for her kids (and later on her grandchildren and great grandchildren), so I wonder if maybe the celebration wasn’t as big or as celebratory as I think it should have been. Nobody to plan for her, perhaps. I just don’t know. My mom, gone these eight years today on May 8th, was my everything and she deserved, in my mind and heart, all the bells, whistles, baubles, praise and love that the universe could muster on any given day.
Her adult life was not easy, although she always described to me a happy childhood. She was very loved by her family and very lucky, even through the lean years of the depression. She married at the tender age of 21, having left university to do so. Mom always felt that in making this decision she had let her parents down, as they so wanted her to finish school. Within nine and half years of making those vows, she was the mother of five children.
During those years of young motherhood and beyond, I never knew Mom not to give her everything to everything that she did. A small but mighty whirling dervish is who Mom was. She broke toes going around coffee tables at breakneck speed, ran a sewing machine needle through her thumb while making an outfit for one of her three girls, seared the impression of a hot iron onto her forearm, and put her whole arm through the ringer of the latest in washing machines. I was a witness to most of these incidents because I liked to hang out and watch my mom work. I can say with certainly that these self inflicted accidents happened not because she was clumsy, but rather because she always had such of long list of tasks that needed doing yesterday.
As an adult, I would plan Mother’s Days to honor her and be there on that day for as many years as I could. There was a long period of time when too many miles separated us and made it impossible for us to be together; but I would always make sure that my mom knew I wanted to be there to hug her, to show her how much I appreciated everything she had meant to me over the years.
I don’t know if it is my nature to be mushy about the mother child relationship, both biological and adoptive, or if the love I saw reflected in my mother’s eyes schooled me in the sanctity of this connection. What I do know is that a picture or a story of a child and her mama always has an immediate and profound effect on me. Happy tears well up and a warm feeling spreads throughout the chambers of my heart. If the story is sad, it goes without saying that a rush of despair hits my gut like a speeding train and I am left bereft.
Regardless of how I came to be the way I am, it is not lost upon me that the connection I felt to the deep love of mothers and their babies was mostly restricted to one species in the animal kingdom – the human species. Sure, pictures of sheep and lambs, cows and calves, dogs and puppies would give me a momentary “Aw, isn’t that sweet” feeling, but that could very well have been happening while I was eating a hot dog, chili con carne or even a bowl of ice cream. It is not a feeling that had any permanence and was it completely disconnected from my eating habits and palate pleasure. I ask myself to this day,
How could I have been so blind?
I offer by way of explanation rather than justification, the deep conditioning of my childhood based on family traditions, palate pleasure and a deep sense of caring and responsibility on the part of my mother to give us what she understood to be the nutritional benefit of consuming the flesh and secretions of other species of animals. It is what she knew.
Many years passed before, as an adult of a certain age, learning about factory farming compelled me to become vegan. What keeps me vegan is all the mothers and babies of this world, both human and non human, who struggle to safeguard what is really an inherent right, the right to be with and to love one another as nature intended. That love of protecting, nurturing, sharing, growing, blossoming is a universal love, a love to be respected, to be revered. Hallelujah! I finally made the connection.
Although I am not in the presence of non human animal families on a daily basis, there are plenty of stories shared in videos, in the media, in books which highlight these very special and worthy relationships. We learn of dogs fostering and nursing abandoned kittens, chickens taking little kitties under their wings, impalas in the wild offering themselves to the hunting lion in order to save the child, gorillas cradling and kissing their babies in the same manner as humans do.
We also hear the bellowing cries of mother cows whose babies have been stolen from them a day or two after birth, so that we can drink their milk. Mother pigs languish in farrowing and gestational crates unable to turn around, unable to touch and care for their young. Baby monkeys are removed from their mothers and used in cruel scientific experiments. Male chicks, who are worthless to the egg industry, are ground up alive and their sisters are sentenced to a life of misery producing egg after egg for humans. They never ever get to meet their mothers.
If my mom had known of these atrocities and had been educated on the benefits of a whole food plant based diet, would she have made other choices? That is hard to say. It was a very different time.
It is now a new day and a new time. The information is readily available. We can choose, as caring individuals, to minimize and hopefully end the massive and systemic exploitation of other species of animals. We can tap in to the purity of the mother child relationship , understanding that it flourishes of its own accord and is essential for survival in most non human species.
Annie’s Vegan View
Veganism is for the sake of the exploited, for the planet and by extension, humans.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thank you for everything. You do and will forever, float my boat.
May all beings be happy and free.