Mother’s Day. It’s a day that makes many people think of flowers: roses, lilacs, peonies… you name it. If you don’t know your mama’s favorite flower, you had better get to know it, because it could easily become a life or death matter for you. The woman who gave life to you is also capable of taking it from you. Just saying.
I saw a saying the other day: “You’re the reason she pees every time she laughs, buy the woman some flowers!” That’s a really good marketing technique, I must say! (And true.)
It’s day to honor the sacred beauty, powerful calling, unconditional love, and boundless sacrifice that is called Motherhood. The very word, “Motherhood” makes me pause and makes my soul feel like it should bow in reverent response of the holy sacredness of the word and all it connotes.
Yet at the same moment, I know the messiness, the bitter sweetness, even sadness and deep pain that Mother’s Day can bring. Or for that matter even the word, Motherhood, can trigger mixed emotions for many of us.
I think of several women near and dear to my heart, who have borne babies who never took a breath in this world. Others who have suffered the trauma of miscarriage. Yet more, whose deepest longing is the beautiful privilege of childbearing, but for whatever reason, are denied of it. It’s pain that I can’t quite wrap my mind around. It’s a pain known alone to those who walk through it. But know this, if this is you: I see you and I care. My heart hurts for you.
I am not familiar with that pain. But there is another one that I am familiar with. For the longest time, Mother’s Day was a blank slate. A day that I really didn’t know what to do with.
My mother died when I was a baby. Aside from a few weeks after I was born, I never knew her. By the time I was old enough to remember, I had a new mother. My earliest childhood memories are of being told that “Mom” was not my “real Mom.” My “real mom” had died when I was a baby.
I remember not having any feelings about it and not knowing HOW I should feel about it. But having a deep, deep longing to KNOW what she looked like. Because of the culture I was born in, there were no photographs to show me what she looked like. I was told to look in the mirror. Because apparently I was the spitting image of my mother. But looking in the mirror, only showed me, ME.
My growing up years remained mostly the same. Rather numb, because how was I SUPPOSED to feel about someone I had never known. Yet a deep, aching, empty void, of something that was supposed to be there, but wasn’t. When I was getting ready for my wedding, was the first time that I missed her. I needed her! I needed a mother’s help navigating the crazy stress and emotions of planning a wedding.
The birth of my first child was the next time that I was again made deeply aware of my need for a mother. I wanted her there by my side for this passage into Motherhood.
Motherhood was my redemption in so many ways. The birth of my first child was the birth of me. And yet it was like plunging off the deep end. I had NO idea how to be a mom. I knew well enough how to care for a baby. That’s a given with six younger siblings and being in an anti-birth control culture. Aside from that I really didn’t know, except I desperately didn’t want to raise my children the way I was raised. Motherhood was the unraveling of me and the making whole of me all in one. And still is.
And so, as Mother’s Days have come and gone in the last years, it’s no longer as blank of a slate. I am thankful for my mother. For giving me life. For her spirit that lives on in me. I truly don’t know much of what she was like. Except that she had to have been incredibly strong to fight cancer and carry and birth a child at the same time. (She lost her battle for her life but at the same time, WON, by giving birth to a new life. And gaining eternal life in heaven.) She had a great sense of humor and a strong faith. And I do see her face sometimes when I look in the mirror.
I wonder about her. If she was still here, would we be friends? I don’t kid myself about that part, because I left the Amish culture. Something that could have had the power to destroy a mother/daughter relationship if we had one. Would she love my children? Her grandchildren? Would I be able to call her about questions of motherhood and life? I don’t know. It’s one of the great unanswered questions of this life for me.
And also on Mother’s Day, I pause and am incredibly thankful for the women who have been pieces of a mother to me over the years.
From the very beginning: My Aunt Mary who took that tiny baby and poured all the love and nurturing she had into her. Loved her and raised her as her own. And when she had to give her back to the “new mom” it all but tore her heart out. But it turned out ok, Aunt Mary, didn’t it? Despite the brokenness. Beauty came out of the ashes. A lot of it due to you. Thank you.
My Grandma, she was always there. My rock.
My oldest sisters. You mothered me more than you know.
Anna Marie, Katie, Ruby, beautiful women I worked with. You didn’t know it, but the love you gave me went straight to the place in my heart that needed mother love.
Shirley, Gwen, Cate, Deborah N. Penny, who have loved on me and my children in a way that has healed me. Shirley, give my mama a hug for me, will you?
Misty, who I have watched mother with grace and wisdom. You have taught me more than you will ever know.
Jenn, who was there for the birth of my first child. I can never put into words how grateful I am that you were there. Having a you there was a beautiful, beautiful gift. Thank you.
To all of you…. Thank you for impacting me in profound ways and giving me pieces of a mother’s love. God truly does place the lonely in families.
Happy Mother’s Day. May you be as blessed with Mother love as I am. And if you have a good Mother, treasure her.
Don’t forget the flowers!