A Letter from Danielle for May ‘15

Hi Everyone,

I’ve always loved the month of May. After the chilly winds of April, in some places May is the beginning of warm weather, but even if not, spring is in the air, flowers are blooming and summer is just around the corner, or at least we hope so. The month begins with May Day, where in France, everyone exchanges little sprigs of lily of the valley (my favorite flower), which is said to bring good luck. So on every street corner, vendors are selling the delicate fragrant flower, and you give it to your friends. I have a son who was born on May 1st, so I particularly like that day. And May 1st is Labor Day in France, so the atmosphere is festive. I always give a dinner party for close friends on May 1st to celebrate the day.

The other major holiday in May is Mother’s Day, which has always been one of my favorite holidays, though it can have a sensitive side to it too. For those whose mothers are no longer around or for those who wish they had been mothers and aren’t, for whatever reason, it can bring up tender memories. For those struggling to have children, it can be a bittersweet reminder of what they don’t have in their lives. My own challenges with Mother’s Day came early. My mother left our home when I was six, and I grew up alone with my father. Having a mother was not part of my daily life, although I saw her at times once I grew up. It taught me an important lesson. We don’t always have the mothers we wish we had, even if they are present in our lives on a daily basis. Mother/daughter relationships can be famously challenging, although they don’t have to be. And some people never have their own biological children. But life has a way of making up for what we don’t have, if we are open to it.

Throughout my life, important mother figures surfaced—older women who took me under their wing with immense kindness (one of whom had no children of her own, the others did.) They were very important people and role models for me, women of great wisdom who taught me a lot about life. And they always came into my life at the right time. Two of them are simply close friends I met once I was an adult. One of them was the aunt of a dear friend, and I would drive hundreds of miles to see her on weekends in my early 20’s when I moved to California. And another has known me since I was a child, and is an extraordinary wise woman I remain close to today—a talented designer well into her 80’s with a huge heart, who continues to work hard and have an active life. She sees every play and movie, and reads every new book, has an active social life, and takes grad school classes at night on interesting subjects. She has been a model for me in many aspects of my life, and she has a great sense of humor. I want to be like her when I grow up!!!

So our mothering may not always come from the sources we expect. The same is true of children. Whether we have children or not, if we are open to it, young people and children can enter our lives  at any point, and bring us enormous joy and sunshine. Families are no longer as traditional as they once were, and we can celebrate the women we love and admire, whether they are our ‘real’ mothers or not. I have been blessed with many children, and even though they are spread out in many cities now, and we can’t always celebrate Mother’s Day together, I am so grateful to have them in my life (along with a few extras I have taken under my wing as well, god-children, or young people who have become part of my life). So keep an open mind about Mother’s Day, it can be a wonderful day to celebrate, whether you are or have a Mother or not.

And then to close the month on a festive note, we get a long weekend on Memorial Day, which is the ’soft’ opening of summer. It may not be blazing hot yet, but it gets us ready for summer—and holidays are always a good thing!!!

Have a great month!!

Love, Danielle

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