Mothering Beyond.

What a loaded day.

There are no words for the quietly mourning and those who feel awkward this day–who inwardly grimace at assuming “happy mother’s day” wishes, the moment in church calling people to stand, the posters, ads, gifts and posts that make them feel on the outside of a day we’ve termed “Mother’s Day.”

The last couple years have shown me that there are more people to be included in this appreciation-filled sentiment than we give credit for. In addition to my own mother who has loved me unconditionally from before I was in her arms, I have witnessed and shouldered the burden and the blessing of motherhood with so many. The women who are there for me and bring a fresh breath of patience and humor and assurance when I am bankrupt of all the things mothering requires. The women who teach and know and pray for my kids in ways I cannot and do not. The women who continuously foster children who they cannot post gratifying photos of, who they have no rights or guarantees with, and for whom they do all the hard work with none of the security and title. The women, like my own biological mother, who bravely carried an unborn child and relinquished it in hope, silently and painfully knowing they were the best mother they could be by letting go so early and no one may ever know. The women who are struggling to become mothers–who are yearning for pregnancy or adoption, for courage and timing, for a green light, for a way in our individualized society; they carry the heavy heart of a mother with hands empty and waiting, open and willing. The women who have lost their children–those who have certain grief today because they are a deeply bereaved mother, who has carried the pain of saying goodbye to a child or the dream of a child, and this day there is no celebration without pain.

I see in this circle of motherhood the men who have become so secure in their identity and so loyal to their families that they are the stay-at-home-parent and have rearranged traditional roles for ones that fit their family better. The daughters and sons who miss their mothers and make their mothers alive to us still, because though their moms have emotionally or physically departed from this world, they carry her daily form of adoration and sacrifice with them as a badge of their personhood, their worthiness and unique perspective on the world around them. Today is also rightfully due the older siblings, who have led their families from the middle of the fray, who have exchanged roles and carried burdens and adopted tones that were prematurely assigned them and completely inappropriate, which have led to any success and independence and loved-ness their siblings enjoy.

These are all mothers, lovingly before all of us who have needed care. Who have given warm advice, ridiculous favors, and help when we didn’t even know it or when didn’t even know we needed it.

Thank you– to my mom, and to all the mothers and caregivers who have helped others become themselves. To all those who walk alongside me daily, making it possible for me to show up as mom. This circle is so wide.

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