Mother’s Day was a day of profound sadness for me for many, many years. When you are an adult woman without children, you feel awkward. People don’t know what to say to you. They’re wishing all the women around you a Happy Mother’s Day, and they want to include you, but why? So, some will say it anyway, and you’ll say “thank you,” hurting all the more for having been included. Or, they’ll pass over you quickly, changing the subject, and you’ll feel the twinge of pain from their artful omission.
Of course, we all have mothers, whether or not we are one. Before I became a step-mother, and later a mother, Mother’s Day was about my mother, and in many ways still is, although I lost her four years ago. I cannot appreciate a bouquet without seeing her smile, or savor the taste of butter pecan ice cream, or enjoy a brooch on a woman’s lapel without thinking of my beautiful mother.
“I have two daughters,” Dede Fluette, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Care Foundation, shared with me on “A Woman’s View.” “Mother’s Day has always been about me being their mom, but now both of my daughters have babies, so it’s about them being mothers. It hurts a little that it’s not all about me. That sounds selfish. But we go to the nursery, and we buy flowers. It’s a full circle day.”
I feel that. The ache of letting go of it being about you. The joy of letting go of it being about you.
“My grandson,” Fluette continued, “when he was two, he said, ‘Love is like a circle.’ I think about that a lot on Mother’s Day. I had a mother, and now I’m a mother and my daughters are mothers.”
There is the use of mother as a noun. Mother’s Day. I am a “mother.” But I think more often of mother as a verb, and of those who mother as mothers, whether they gave birth or not. This way of thinking may come from my years as a step-mother, that most confusing of all roles on Mother’s Day.
“Now I have step-kids, and it’s difficult,” Tara Bueche, a realtor with Urban Utah, shared on the program. “The kids are with their mom on Mother’s Day. Last year, my husband didn’t do anything for me, and then he said, ‘I should have done something for you,’ and I said, ‘It’s not step-mom’s day.’ But I realized, I do mother these children.”
Yes. Yes, you do. There is “mother” as a verb. I know some mothers (noun) who do not mother (verb) and many who are not mothers (noun) who do mother (verb). See how confusing this day is?
“It’s fascinating to me when you’re the child of a divorced family,” Ann O’ber, who works in local government management, explained. “I love my mother very much. She’s like my best friend, but I also lucked out and got an awesome step-mom, but I don’t want to diminish what this day is to my mother.”
As Ann spoke, the tears stung my eyes. I knew that place so well. I imagined my own wonderful step-kids, who I call my “bigs” because we both dislike the term “step-kids,” have wanted to express their love for me on this day, but have not wanted to diminish this day for their mother. I don’t want them to feel torn in this way. I want them to know that I feel their love, yesterday, today, every day, that no flowers or fancy food or presents will ever be necessary. I feel it every time they come through the door. I feel it whenever they trust me enough to tell me about their lives, to share their feelings, to open up to me. Their time is their gift. They only have one mother. I am so very lucky that I get to be another adult who loves them unconditionally and on whom they can depend.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the cards my little boys worked hard to make for me. I love the effort my husband went to to make yesterday special. I am a blessed woman in so many ways, and humbled because of it. But I remember when this day brought me tears and the ache of inadequacy, and if those feelings were any part of your yesterday, I just wanted to say something to you.
I don’t know a woman who doesn’t mother. Not one. Whether she mothers a child or a community or a company, it matters not. It is in our very DNA to nurture and develop the talent and abilities of those around us. We encourage others. That’s what we do. And when we do, they flower. I see it every day in the women around me, whether they have children or not. And all of those women are mothers. And we need all of them.
So, if you’ll forgive me, in case no one said it to you yesterday, may I say, “Happy Mother’s Day” to all of you who mother. I feel blessed by the love you spread so liberally.
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