Our annual tradition as a society to celebrate those women fortunate enough to have given birth or adopted and reared a child has me thinking about motherhood more than I normally do. I witnessed many stages of traditional motherhood over the week, and some less so.
My youngest sister is in the midst of chasing around a toddler, practicing potty training, learning new words, and getting into everything. While my oldest sister has two rambunctious young boys who love sports, super heroes and wiggling newly loosened teeth.
I also spent time with my sister-in-law who is on the opposite side of the spectrum caring for her infant daughter. She is still swaddling at nap time, heating bottles and watching with anticipation for the first unassisted roll over.
My mother and mother-in-law are not only enjoying the golden years of parenting where the baby birds are leaving the nest and learning to fly, but they are basking in the glory of being the beloved grandma who can do no wrong.
Likewise, my and Robert's grandmothers have pretty much seen it all, and spend their time sharing their love and wisdom on both the new mothers and new grandmothers. They have watched the circle of life, and they are treasuring the newest additions while the older ones assume their new roles.
All of these roles are important. There is so much that a mother does. Selfless in the care for her children, she sacrifices her own appearance, comfort and oftentimes, sanity, to ensure the well being of her young. It is a biological reaction to protect one 's offspring so that we may live on through them. It's survival of the fittest, and we want to end up on top.
Beyond the natural instinct, however, is the uniquely human ability to love, support, encourage and guide her children through that terrifying thing we call life. So, of course they deserve a day all about them where we show them our gratitude for all they do, which less face it, could never really be enough.
One of the most special moments of the weekend, however, was having lunch and giving a card to my grandfather's wife. She never had any children, and therefore, celebrated her first Mother's Day this year. She was very touched by our little gesture which, of course, made our day even better. We miss my dear, sweet grandma terribly, but we now have the opportunity to get to know and love a new member of the family in a way she's never experienced.
In the Mother's Day service at my family's home church, our pastor's wife spoke about both mothers and non-mothers. She emphasized the importance of celebrating and honoring all women and being sensitive to those who perhaps never had the opportunity to have children or simply chose not to. These women may not technically be mothers, but that doesn't mean they should be ignored.
That got me thinking, "What else does being a mother mean?" Aside from the biological or legal process of becoming a child's guardian, what are the other significant factors?
As I mentioned before, caring for and protecting a child is at the top of the list. But there's so much more: providing encouragement, support and comfort; being a friend, a listening ear, an ally; teaching life lessons, giving advice in difficult situations and guiding them through the storms.
A woman who exhibits these traits deserves to be honored as much as a mother, perhaps more so. Yes, a mother chooses to rear a child, but there is an unmistakable biological and/or legal bond. A friend, aunt, distant relative or teacher who cares that much for someone who is not their own flesh and blood, she deserves a medal.
Do you have anyone like that in your life? Are you one of the lucky ones who has a wonderful mother and an amazing step or god mother? Or were you raised by a selfless and loving aunt or grandmother who stepped in when needed? Is there a mentor, a dear friend in your life who loves you like you are hers? Does she know you appreciate what she has done for you? Has she had the recognition she deserves?
I am going to do my best to remember those women in my life not just on a Sunday in May but year-round. And I hope to follow their example of providing unconditional love and kindness to me, even when I don't deserve it. Maybe someday I'll be fortunate enough to be that special woman to someone. Maybe to my children. Maybe not. It doesn't really matter as long as I love them, and they know it.
Here's some of my favorite mothers!
|Paisley, Hannah, my Nana and me|
|Hannah, mom and me|
|Me, my sister-in-law Morgan, mother- in-law Loree and other |
sister-in-law Katelyn (who has not had any babies yet!)
|Throwback! My mom, sister Hannah, me and my Grandma|
|Also pretty throwback: the sisters! Hannah, me, Jen and Holly (back when they were preggers)|
|Robert's Papaw and Grandma|
|Me, my step-grandmother Glenda, my grandaddy, mom, Paisley and Hannah|
There are so many more I could list. Cheers to mothers and women everywhere!