We’ve marked yet another Mother’s Day off the calendar. Women with children either celebrated in fashion or with macaroni glued projects and soggy French toast.
But my mind wasn’t on motherhood this year. It was on loss. It was on those with empty arms and aching hearts. They’re mothers too, you know.
The women who lost babies and their babies’ dreams to miscarriage, SIDS, and other tragedies that took their little ones far, far too soon. Their arms might be empty, but they’re mothers too.
Women whose babies grew up before their eyes and passed away before they did, they’re mothers too. They are the women I’ve had on my heart and mind this year as society geared up for another year, another day of celebrating mothers.
I find it odd that we celebrate Mother’s Day. Not that mothers aren’t amazing, many of them anyway. They do so much for their offspring from birthing them to teaching them to fixing all the boo boos they can. Mothers are great.
Oh I know about infertility and bed rest. I know about stretch marks and the hours spent waiting up for the young ones to come home in time for curfew. I know about all those things because I’m a mother too.
Mothers endure and conquer and worry and pray. They bandage and cook and clean. I get that. But they didn’t create the baby. That was out of their control. Think about that for a minute.
I have seven children. Three, I gave birth to. Spreading your legs does not a baby make. The miracle of conception is something I had no control over. Three of the children, I adopted. Believe me, there was even less control there. Social workers and judges were the ones who granted that. The seventh child was brought to me through the journey of step parenting. Anyone who thinks that is something a woman can simply make happen has never done it. I can guarantee you that.
It takes a lot to be a mother. A willingness to be present, to show up, to care about someone so much that other things get put on the back burner. Like sleep. Like your sex life, exotic vacations, eating a hot meal, and showering.
It takes nothing to be childless. A tragedy, a blink of an eye. Countless hours, days, weeks, months, years even of trying every known modern day scientific wonder.
Come to think of it, it takes a lot to be childless. Strength, endurance, believing in life again. Tears.
And while we mothers whose children are strong and healthy or even unhealthy and alive are soaking up all the rights we believe are ours on Mother’s Day, we mustn't forget that the others, the ones who’ve lost their children, are mothers too.
Those whose children who have gone on before them are mothers too because they had children. Whether those children made only their presence known through a pregnancy announcement before going on before us or they made their presence known through a life lived, albeit short, they were here. They put their stamp of life onto the world.
Maybe you didn’t know them or get the opportunity to greet them, but their mothers did. They were very aware of their presence and still are today. It’s been sixteen years since the child I was pregnant with went on before me. Ten weeks and I knew that child. I think of her often.
And the women who’ve never had children? They’re mothers too. All of them. How you ask? Because they’ve mothered someone’s child, somewhere, at some time in their lives. Maybe they’ve even mothered your child.
Whether you’ve wanted their involvement by asking them to be your child’s godmother or you didn’t…when your former spouse or partner paired up with someone else who now shares in the mothering role of your child, they’re mothers too. They may not have the stretch marks to prove it, but they have the marks on their hearts.
And that’s the true testament of a mother’s love. The marks on her heart, the circles under her eyes, the love in her voice. Having stretch marks doesn’t make you better or put you into a club so elite that no other woman can enter without bearing the same scars. Having stretch marks simply means you once outgrew your normal sized clothes.
It’s when your heart outgrows its normal size to fit in enough love to love a passel of children, wherever they’ve come, that you become a mother.
They’re mothers too.
Don’t ignore them on Mother's Day or any other day. Don’t belittle them or have pity for them. Honor them. Thank them for what they’ve done for your children or your neighbor’s child or the motherless child down the street. Send them flowers or a card. Take them to dinner. Whatever you do, celebrate them.