I was not going to post on Mother’s Day. I was going to try and stay off social media today and enjoy my children. But my reality this morning was not breakfast in bed or pampering. It was not waking up with the sunrise to chirping birds and coffee. My husband is out of town. My toddler had his elbows and knees in my back half the night, and Lilli woke me up way before dawn as usual, pulling on me with a dozen requests. The thing about having kids on Mother's Day is, well, little kids, or kids with special needs, still need their mothers to do a million things. So I woke up grouchy. And my attitude stunk.
But it’s Mother’s Day.
So I have been up thinking for hours about today, and what it means to celebrate today. And who “gets” to celebrate it.
My heart is tender for you who are sad on Mother’s day. For you who do not have your mother to celebrate with today, like myself. And for you who have a physical birth mother, but maybe she has not been a part of your life, or she has hurt you deeply or abandoned you. I think of you who desperately long to be a mother and have waited for years with much hopefulness and despair. And I think of you who have given birth or adopted children, but motherhood has not turned out at all to be the way you thought it would be. And it's been very hard, and heartbreaking for you.
For you, who are sad today, these words are for you.
Mother’s Day is not about mothers.
Mother's Day is about mothering.
Maybe it is because I do not have my mom to celebrate with, but Mother's Day has come to mean much more to me than thinking about my own mother or my own children. When I lost my mother at the age of 13, I looked to many other women to "mother" me over the course of my life. A woman always needs someone to mother her, all throughout her entire life. When your mother is gone or absent from your life, others step in. I have been loved and mothered by so many women over the years. By my sister, my sisters in law, my mother in law, the moms of my friends, by teachers, by my own good longtime girlfriends, by women from church, by sweet women neighbors over the years wherever I have lived, by women I worked with (especially when I was a new young teacher). Even by complete strangers when I was in a time of need. So many wonderful, thoughtful women God has always put into my life to help me, guide me, love me.
I think of them all today. I think of moments over the years when I desperately needed a mother, and one of these women in my life stepped in and mothered me, for that moment.
I am thankful for all of them.
Many of those women are you, who are reading this right now. Or if you are my girlfriend, maybe your very own mom mothered me when I was young by welcoming me into your childhood home, feeding me, giving me rides, giving advice, cheering me on at some school function, praying for me, and just… well, being a mother.
I hope that over the course of my life, I will be able to mother others in this way, besides my own dear children. And I know because of my own experience, that I am not the only person who mothers my own children. There are many others in our lives who have mothered my children, and we need these women in our lives too. I celebrate them. Because Mother’s Day really is not just about moms. It is about anyone who mothers. It is about women who foster, adopt, or help anyone by “mothering” them in some way.
There is no “rule” that says you can only celebrate Mother’s Day if you have given birth or your mother is still alive and coming over for brunch today. It will make you sad if you think all those Mother's Day cards at the store are just for "real moms." Whatever that means. I used to think that. I don't anymore.
So I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day, all you who have mothered someone in some way. It is a gift to mother someone, and it is a gift to be mothered by someone. This is why we celebrate. Because we are thankful for the gift of mothering. If you have ever mothered someone, or been mothered, celebrate today.
Celebrate all those who mother, on mother’s day. It really should be called "Mothering Day."
If you have sadness in your heart today, make a list of women who have mothered you over the course of your life, and celebrate those women. I'll bet the list will be longer than you think. Think of the women who have been there for you in your times of greatest need. And think of those who you have mothered or are currently mothering in perhaps even the smallest of ways. You are more important to that person than you will ever realize.
Today is not about who you are not. It is not about who you don't have. It is about who you are. It is about who you do have.
So Happy Mothering Day to all of you. And if you are one of those special women who touched my life over the years, thank you... and with much love, I wish a special, Happy Mothering Day to you.