Friday, August 16, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Wait... what?  I'm sure you're thinking that I am a few months late, but here in Costa Rica, today is Mother's Day!  It has become our family's tradition to celebrate our mothers on the US Mother's Day and reserve the Costa Rican Mother's Day for me.  Works out well!  It is a big deal here.  Businesses and schools are closed so that extended families can get together.  Our church youth group even goes from house to house the night of Mother's Day serenading all the mothers in the congregation!

with my two sweeties today, celebrating Costa Rican Mother's Day
I have lived in Costa Rica as long as I have been a mother and so my experience of motherhood is totally wrapped up in the Latin culture, and, yet, my American-ness often sets me apart in little things - how I dress my kids (I learned quickly that even though it was crazy hot out, the baby MUST have socks on), when I bathe them (my friends think it is so weird that we bathe the kids at night), how we discipline them (disciplining here often doesn't start until the kids are school age), that we have a schedule (not the norm here for sure), etc.  But, I have so enjoyed how motherhood opens the door to friendships and sharing life together, and I count myself blessed to be able to learn, especially from the fellow believers among my Tica (Costa Rican) friends. 

with precious older friends I have learned from and shared life with for the past four years
In honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to share a journal entry I wrote on Costa Rican Mother's Day in 2009, when I experienced a Mother's Day celebration with our new church for the first time:

"I love events like this that give me a window into the culture in which we live...  We were supposed to share about the birth of our first child (all 20 of us! It took a LONG time!).  Through this, I learned that Ticas - and probably Latinas in general - have a flair for dramatic storytelling.  As the women told their stories, there was a lot of "Ay, yo sufrí muchísimo!" (Oh, I suffered so much!).  I've noticed this before: when Ticas get together, they talk about their kids' births... and when they talk about pregnancy and labor, they like to emphasize the pain!  But, it is interesting; I don't get the impression that they are trying to exaggerate or to "one-up" each other.  They just genuinely all enjoy telling and listening to dramatic stories!  Several women even stood up and told their stories with great gestures and facial expressions; they are true storytellers!

The stories seemed to escalating in dramatics until one of my friends reminded us that there was a girl there who is expecting her first baby next month.  The poor girl, who is still a teenager, was sitting there with huge eyes, looking a little terrified.  Fortunately, the next lady who spoke is very sweet, and she redeemed the whole situation by acknowledging that, yes, labor hurts, but when it's over and the doctor hands you your precious little baby (and here she paused to crook her arm as if she was holding a baby and looked down at this imaginary baby with an adoring, angelic look on her face), you'll be overwhelmed by God's gift to you.  You'll say "¿Es mío? ¡Que bendición!  ¡Que responsibilidad!" (Is he mine?  What a blessing!  What a responsibility!). 

As I looked at my friend's sweet face glowing with the remembrance of her feelings at her children's births, and as my heart related to hers, I realized that in spite of cultural differences, there are some things that unite women all around the world.  The joy, the challenges, the sweetness, and the responsibility of motherhood is a common factor to all women with children.  And, as I thought about that, I didn't feel like the only gringa (foreigner, from the USA) there anymore; I just felt like one of the women in this group of mothers who love the Lord, and who are thankful for the children He has blessed them with.  Praise the Lord!" 

with my dear friend, who I now call my mamá tica (Costa Rican mom)
Since that day four years ago, my friendships with these women have grown and we have truly shared life together.  We consult each other as mom friends do.  We learn from our different ways of doing things and can pick and choose the best of both cultures.  The women in these photos represent the Tica friends who have loved our kids and supported me as a mom through the majority of our time living here.  Some of them are older than me; they are the ones who encourage me to focus on the blessing of my kids and the ministry I have in being their mom.  Others, like our pastor's wife below, are in the same stage of babies, toddlers and preschoolers that I am in; we are walking through the adventure of motherhood together!  I am so thankful for the richness that these cross-cultural friendships bring to motherhood for me.

with my kindred spirit and pastor's wife at this year's Mother's Day church celebration
Is Mother's Day celebrated in your host country?  How is it celebrated?  Has motherhood given you the opportunity to go deep in conversations and friendships with local women? 


  1. ¡Feliz Día del Madre a ti tambien! Hope it was a great one! And we need to get together again soon! I'll email ya...

    1. Thanks, Liz! Yes, looking forward to seeing again sometime soon!

  2. We have Mother's Day 2 weeks before Easter in England. It's usually celebrated similarly to the way Americans do it, just earlier in the year.

  3. In El Salvador, Mother's Day is always May 10th so sometimes it is the same as U.S. Mother's Day. The kids usually have a special breakfast for moms at school, and then they are free to celebrate the rest of the day with their mothers. Motherhood definitely creates a "common ground" where otherwise one wouldn't exist. I have had opportunities to have meaningful conversations with women involved in prostitution because we are both mothers. It's a wonderful connecting point. By the way, in El Salvador everyone is shocked that my kids shower at night too!