“I haven’t slept in weeks,” the beautiful woman shared from across the blue covered picnic table. A mother to a 17 year old, a 2 year old and a 3 month old-all foster to adopted children. None from her body. However, in the blue bruises under her sleep deprived eyes and hair in need for highlights, the grays peeking through, I only saw a compatriot in the trenches of diapers and attitudes and messes.
It took many years before we saw an ultrasound from my husband’s sibling. They were told it would probably never happen, and yet it did. The fall will bring a miracle baby into our family.
My dearest manager at work became a step-mother to an 11 year old who has now grown into a handsome, successful young man. She humbly discounts her role in his life, but in the way he smiles at her, you know this is truly his mom.
My brother said he would never get married nor have a family. He insisted he was fulfilled with spoiling our children and pursuing with passion his career. Then she happened. And in two short years he married and will be bringing a baby into the family this fall.
My friend will be mothering her son’s girlfriend as she moves in for a time; bringing another woman into a house full of men. Last night I made her laugh so she didn’t cry at the enormity of the changes.
Too many friends of mine have had complicated and painful relationships with their mothers. One is spending this day removing freedom from her mother-in-law to save her from dementia. Another has posted a meme on how birthing a child does not make a mother, rather heart does.
For me, mother’s day puts pressure on old wounds of mothering failures. While healing is ongoing, it’s so easy to feel the pinch of things remembered through the haze of depression and anxiety.
I remember my mother and grandmother. Tough and tender, I never quite understood them until long after they were gone.
My Mother Kathy and Grandmother Ruth
I received this as a mother’s day gift from my sparkly 2nd grader.
I spent the majority of the day in jammies sobbing over a maudlin Nicholas Sparks movie (the only one where no one dies). I called my dearest sister (in law) and talked babies and summer visits and teaching and all things wonderful.
We went to a superhero movie and out to dinner. At dinner I quickly grabbed my phone remembering we hadn’t called Joyce. Then I cried. Joyce is my mother-in-law who has been gone for 5 years. So real is her presence still in our lives.
This day has been one where I have been thinking of all the kinds of mothers I know. The ones still waiting, the ones who are walking through addiction recovery, the grandmothers who are mothering again because their own children are incarcerated or incapable. I’m thinking of all the women who mother children in their classrooms or youth groups or on the job; like Wanda, the office manager, who taught me white people under-season their food and how vanilla should be quadrupled in any recipe.
To all the mothers from whom I learn so much, I say thank you and pray for your hearts to be full and your blanket warm and your nap uninterrupted.
Would you share about the mothers of all kinds in your life? I would love to read about them.