It's Mother's Day in the US today. We had our Mother's Day back in March, but as an American, I'm entitling myself to two Mother's Days.
I have been very fortunate in the Mother Department. Obviously, I have my own mother. Thankfully, I am lucky enough to still have her around, and I don't take that for granted. I have many friends who lost their mothers at a young age, and I cannot imagine what that must be like. I can't imagine life without my mom. So I thank God my mom is still here with me. I also have an incredible mother-in-law. Again, not something I take for granted! The stereotype of a terrible mother-in-law doesn't exist for nothing; I know many people who have a tiresome, controlling, intolerable mother-in-law, and once again, thank God mine is not one of them! Then recently I was given a step-mother. Though the circumstances involved in one gaining a step-mother are less than ideal, I couldn't have asked for a sweeter, more loving one. I also have a living grandmother who loved me and cared for me growing up, a grandmother who passed away many years ago who was just as loving, a grandmother-in-law who also passed away who could not have been more open, generous and loving, and a step-grandmother who is good and kind.
On top of that, I have had mother figures who have helped me along the way. My aunts were always around and loved me and helped teach me along the way. I had a 'mom away from mom' when I was at university who mentored me, gave me a place to stay when the pain of growing from teen to adult would become too great for me to bear alone, and respected me as an independent girl-woman in my own right. There are also friends, who are mothers too, who daily help me in my own struggles as a mother, who inspire me, advise me, laugh with me, encourage me and walk along beside me.
I don't usually use this word, but I am blessed. I am blessed by mothers everywhere. I live in the world of mothers. I see every day what mothers do. I realise more and more each day what the mothers in my life have given for their children as I strive to give more to mine. I realise as days go by how hard mothering can be, and feel so thankful that good mothering can't be undone by one or two (or even a hundred) wrong turns along the way. When I shout at my kids out of my own frustration, I feel I have ruined all I've worked for. Yet ten minutes later, my kids still run back into my arms, smother me with kisses, and pledge their love for me. I look back at my own mom and don't remember very many instances at all where she did anything 'wrong' in raising me; and even those one or two memories of something 'wrong' don't feel wrong, just human. Yet I am certain she can remember many wrong turns along the way, but those aren't the ones that stick. What matters is the overarching banner of love that is hung over our lives. That banner seems to cover a multitude of sins.
I want to wish my mom a Happy Mother's Day, for making me feel loved even when I was the least lovable, for making me believe I was worth something, for giving me confidence in myself, for never making me feel like a failure, for encouraging me to do my best and never expecting more than my best, for being available when I needed to talk, especially when it came to the 'big stuff', and for patiently standing back just the right distance, probably praying the whole time, while she allowed me to make my own way in the world, cheering on my good choices and quietly reprimanding my bad ones.
I want to wish my mother-in-law Happy Mother's Day, for allowing me into not just her family but into her heart, for making me a real part of this home away from home, for being available when I need her but never pushing her way through uninvited, for letting me and her son learn how to be a married couple all on our own, for taking care of us in any way she can, for giving me advice when I need it, for being open enough to talk about the difficult things I would've needed my own mom for but couldn't have due to the distance, for praying for me, for loving our children, for sacrificing her time, her energy, her love, her belongings, her emotions and often her sleep for us.
I want to wish my step-mom Happy Mother's Day, for treating my kids like her own grandkids, for including me as a part of her new family, for making my dad happy, for her effort and energy to include a whole new family into her affections without reserve, and for being a kind, open, generous woman who I look forward to getting to know much better as the years go on.
I want to wish my college mentor, Kathy, Happy Mother's Day, because she made a permanent, indelible mark on my life, by being my mom-away-from-mom those four years I lived away, for teaching me about the Bible, showing me an example of what a Christian woman looks and acts like, for listening to my constant complaints and questions with patience and humour, for being the first adult to treat me also like an adult, for paving the way for me to become a mother myself through watching her breastfeed, co-sleep, gently parent her children, prepare healthy and interesting meals, and have the grace and humour to laugh at her sometimes untidy but never dirty house, for inviting me into her home, into her children's lives, and even into her spare bedroom when I just needed somewhere to stay during times of heartbreak, confusion and tears, and for celebrating with me the joy I found when I met my fiance and for giving me sound counsel as I prepared for my marriage.
And Happy Mother's Day to all the other mothers who have been in my life along the way, my friends, my relatives, my fellow breastfeeders, mommy-bloggers, and all the mothers out there doing their best and making a few wrong turns along the way. We are all on the same journey, walking along the same road, and if we stick together, we will all reach our destination with success, dignity, pride and laughter.