what is it that makes someone a mother? is it issuing forth new life from one's own loins? is it the breath of an angel? the smile of a god? synchronicity? serendipity? biology? chemistry? anatomy & physiology?
years ago, my son attended kindergarten at the local catholic school, and it was run by nuns. a group of us was standing around at the end of a friday, catching up, chatting, sharing our plans for the weekend. the principal, who was a nun, announced that she had to be off to attend to some business. as she turned to walk away i said, "happy mother's day!" she stopped, turned, and just looked at me. with tears in her eyes she said, "no one has ever wished me a happy mother's day before ..." and i said to her, "well, that's sad, because mother's day belongs to every woman who has ever loved a child."
in the church i grew up in (that's how we say things around here), at some point someone, or a committee of someones, decided that mother's day should be celebrated, which is weird because people aren't supposed to be celebrated in church. that's another topic. anyway, there were these little contests, and the winners were given a corsage to wear. the oldest mother. the newest mother - one year someone voiced dissent about this award because the newest mother had adopted her child. the mother with the most children present in church - didn't matter who actually had the most children, just who had the most with her that day. my mom could not stand this particular practice. we were methodists and this wasn't proper. that and the fact she wouldn't be getting one of those corsages for one reason or another -- another topic for another day. her main argument and concern was for those women who didn't have children, who couldn't have children, who had tried & tried and it just didn't happen, and especially the old women in our church who had devoted their lives to public education back when being a teacher meant you could not marry. i decided then that too many women loved children and their love wasn't being recognized on mother's day.
a mother is any woman who has ever loved a child. she could indeed be your mother -- by birth, by choice, by the longing of her heart. she could be your aunt, your cousin, your neighbor (that was my mom, another story), your sister. a mother can be married -- to anyone, or she could be single, or divorced. a mother can be young, old, middle-aged. a mother is a woman who has taken it upon herself to love and nurture someone, to want the best for someone other than herself. a mother is someone who will sacrifice her own wants and needs, maybe not always, but most of the time, to see that her loved one is safe and comfortable, clothed and fed, cared for and nurtured. a mother does not always say what is on her mind, but ponders things in her heart, and always wants better for the one, or the ones, she loves.
a mother is a woman . . . any woman . . . who has ever loved a child.
My mama, Queen Elsie, and her baby girl . . .