Mother’s Day has always held a special meaning for me.
As a child, I would anticipate Mother’s Day by making a pretty card for my mother and trying my best to bake her a little cake in my EasyBake oven. As the years progressed and I had money, earned from my allowance, I was able to buy my mother a little trinket at the store to commemorate the day. Early in my life, my mother became very ill and she passed when I was thirteen.
After her death, Mother’s Day became a very awful reminder that my mother was gone.
For years, I avoided the day, volunteering to work at my grocery store job on Mother’s Day to keep me distracted, not traveling home from college for the weekend so I could forget about the holiday. When I worked for the federal government and began traveling internationally, I subconsciously planned my overseas travel in May, avoiding the dreaded holiday altogether.
As I grew older and the pain of losing my mother began to lessen, I opened my heart to other mothers.
Fortunately, there were many women in my life who did what they could to mother me and to love me. I have three aunts that are so precious to me that tears come to my eyes each time I think of them. Aunt Liz, my constant friend, and confidant; Aunt Evelyn, my cheerleader, and mentor; Aunt Sheryl, my lifelong advocate. My friend’s mothers also played large roles in my upbringing and making me feel loved and accepted. There was Wilma, Faye, and Lois, my best friends’ mothers who shuttled me to school, church and the mall as a teenager and who fed me hundreds of dinners and breakfasts after late nights running around with their children in high school. My young adulthood brought additional mothers. Amy, my best friend from college, is a constant in my life and she keeps me accountable and intellectually stimulated. And now Becky, a mother of two daughters and grandmother of two, has broadened her circle of love to include my growing family and me.
As I sought out surrogate mothers to fill my life and as I opened my heart a little bit at a time, I was able to let each one of these would-be moms mother me, the motherless child who didn’t want to be “mothered.” For many years, friends have told me that I am very “maternal.” This may be because from a very young age I mothered my younger sister, Kathy, who is 8 ½ years younger than I. When Kathy had her first baby at 19, I helped her mother her son, Connor. At age 39, I brought a long-awaited baby into my home through adoption and my journey into full-time motherhood finally began. Soon after I turned 42, I was blessed with a daughter, also through adoption.
This year, I wrote five Mother’s Day cards, FIVE! This makes me laugh because it is a holiday that is so complicated for me, yet I am celebrating so vigorously.
I write to thank those aunts and friends who mother me, I write the birthmothers who enabled me to be a mom and I write my sister to tell her what a great job she does being a mother. When I was little, I thought of motherhood as a one-way relationship – mother and child. I now see that we are just a big ‘ole circle of mothers supporting one another, mothering each other irrespective of biological connection. We ebb and flow out of childhood into a mother-role and back into needing the love of a mother. This ebb and flow happens from day to day, moment to moment.
We sometimes are the children that our mothers need and sometimes we are the mothers our sisters and friends need. Birthing a child does not make you a mother, nor does being childless make you any less of a mother. Mothers are everywhere – these caregivers, these friends, these mentors, and confidants!