As a woman who has struggled with infertility for four and half years, I should hate Mother's Day, and at one point I did. Through time and the wise, comforting words of women who have gone through similar frustration, I have come to realize that even though I have not given birth or am not currently raising children, I am already a mother.
I have served several times in the young women program at my church. Time after time, I have learned to love those crazy teenage girls. I don't claim to love them as much as their actual mothers, but I celebrate their accomplishments, I cry when they show love for others, I beam with pride and excitement when I see the light of understanding and growth flash in their eyes, I worry about them and their futures. As I have seen pictures and updates from girls I worked with in the past on Facebook, I feel a sense of privilege that for even one second I got to teach and lead these amazing young women, some of whom are now becoming adults. I also feel sorrow and concern when I see that some have made questionable choices in their lives. Doesn't that make me a mother?
As powerful an influence that my own mother undoubtedly has had on me, I can't forget the other women who have loved me, guided me, provided examples for me, and encouraged me both growing up and in my adulthood. My friends' mothers and my leaders at church exemplified confident women who cared for children outside the walls of their homes. The time they spent with me and the time they spent serving me definitely translated into my feeling loved and supported if I needed help.
Ever since I left for college, I haven't seen my mother (and yes, my father too) as much as I would wish, especially during the difficult experiences of two emotionally and physically painful surgeries. But I was showered with the love and care of remarkable women. I can admit that without their motherly concern toward me, a non-relative, I think I would have struggled so much more than I did to recover. On one occasion when my mother visited us, she thanked the women who had become surrogate mothers and sisters to me. I too am grateful for the women in my life who have mothered me.
Even those women who
don't call me sweetie, give me a warm hug, or tell me how special I am--like teachers (who hasn't called a teacher mom?), professors, co-workers, and bosses--have played a motherly role in my life. They have mentored me, guided me, corrected me, and supported my efforts that would lead to my skill development. These women too have my gratitude and respect.
Although I do not have children of my own yet, my womanhood in itself means that I am a mother. There are so many I can love, nurture, encourage, guide, and help.
So please, feel free to wish me a Happy Mother's Day!
And Happy Mother's Day to my mother and all the mothers (with or without kids) in my life!