Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Other Mothers

On Friday night, when I was driving home from the grocery store, I noticed that the gas station on the corner had set up two tents, which were filled with flowers and balloons.  At first I was confused, but then I realized, of course: Mother's Day.

We know how tricky this holiday is, for motherless children, for childless mothers, for the bereaved.  And honestly, though I love the homemade cards from my children, I don't like the pressure to buy balloons and flowers and candy.  I am uncomfortable with the iconography of motherhood that Hallmark offers up, even for those among us who had perfect pregnancies and exactly the number of children we wanted and managed to strike a perfect work/life balance and have fabulous relationships with our own--still living--mothers.

Like I've done in most years past, I'm choosing to celebrate Mother's Day (misplaced apostrophe and all) by celebrating my own Other Mothers, some of whom have no biological children of their own, but who have been mothers to me when I've needed them most.  And I've needed a lot of mothering lately.

Here are the Other Mothers I'm honoring in my heart today:

J., who came when it felt like the walls were finally closing in; helped me to find a door; and may--though I haven't yet asked her--even let me and my daughter adopt her.  Whose arms and heart are so open.

The other J., who invited me to be part of a group of amazing and inspiring women, who checks in on me periodically, despite the shitstorm in her own life.  Who has given me the gift of her own vulnerability as a parent.  Who is really an astonishingly strong and powerful mother.

Mel, who has been my patient blogging and writing mother, though I am a recalcitrant blogging child.

Lori, my wise mother-across-the-country, the one who reminds me to listen to myself, who always knows exactly the right thoughtful, thought-provoking, reassuring but also daring thing to say.

AmarJyothi, who teaches me, each time I am on the mat in her class, how to mother myself.

C., who reminds me how to be the mother I want to be.

N., who brought me tea and chocolate and made me rest during the worst of my pregnancy losses, who can no longer look across the driveway into my window, but still mothers me from the West Coast, and pokes me to go to bed, via Facebook.

E., who was my first professional mother, who taught me, by example, that the most important thing about working was protecting your integrity.  Whose voice I still hear when I doubt my decision to leave my last position.

There have been others along the way.  But today, I wanted to say thank you, for giving so generously of yourself, for mothering someone who shares no biology with you.  Because really, in the end, that's not what motherhood is about at its core, is it.  It's about the unselfish gift, of life, of love, even when the giving is not easy.

And to those of you who do this for other people, whether you are mothers to your own children or not, consider yourself hugged today.

Who are your Other Mothers?
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  1. You are just so wonderfully smart. And generous.

    Hoping you're having a good day. I'll be thinking of my own other mothers....

  2. That is nice. This is what everyone should be doing today, not turning it into just another Hallmark-Valentines-guilt-fest.

  3. I love that idea -- that we are mothered by so many people in our lives, not just our mothers. And we mother others, even if they're not our children. We care, we nurture, we grow, we raise.

  4. Like any other holiday, Hallmark has vomited all over this one - and even as a mother who is lucky enough to have both my mother AND my kids alive and healthy, I still resent how much society compels us to "over do" this holiday and so many others. I love your list of other mothers. I have a list as well, including a favorite yoga teacher and the mothers of friends of mine while I was growing up. I fell so lucky to have this tribe of women who have helped raise me!

  5. Beautiful post! I have a lot of Other Mothers in my life, too, and Other Aunts, Sisters, Grandmas, etc. I don't know where I'd be without them!

    I'd like to invite you to link-up this post to my Marvelous Moms Link-up on Fibro, Fit and Fab! (the last day is today, Monday, May 13th). I think it is inspiring and would be a blessing to so many, and because, well...Other Mothers are Mothers, too, in their own way and deserve to be acknowledged as the Marvelous Moms that they are. If you can't, I understand, but hope you can. :)

  6. Thank you for linking this up, Justine! :)

  7. I am unbelievably honored to be included here.

    I consider you a sister. You enrich my life so much.

  8. I love the idea of celebrating out other mothers. I don't have many in my own life (perhaps because my own mother is such a huge presence) but the ones I do have are so very important to me. It warns my heart to see all the strong women who have helped guide you through life. I'm sure you touched their lives in positive ways as well.

  9. This was a fabulous post. :) I am fortunate to have had several caring adult women in my life as I grew up. I may post about this myself. ;)


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