(The Mother’s Hand (1966) by Antanas Sutkus)
I never had a mother.
I don’t know much about her, and what little I was told has proven to be mostly lies.
I had people who raised me. Who showed up, did their job and went home at the end of the day.
So I have never really celebrated Mother’s Day in the sense of being able to tell my mother I love her, or thank her for anything. I actually do not know what it would be like to have a mother who loved and wanted me, who thought I was wonderful, who was proud of me, or cheered for me, or wanted me to succeed but held my hand when I failed. I don’t know what it is like to have those arms around me. I don’t have a circle. I only have my own limited existence and the effort I made to mother myself. So I have looked long and deep at other women and their families.
I have always celebrated the spirit of motherhood that I see in women as their true creative force. Women give birth, not just to children, but to life . . . in so many different modalities.
I celebrate in terms of appreciating all those women around me who are mothers. I see their struggles and doubts, their loneliness sometimes and the feelings of being unappreciated. I am particularly drawn to those whose children never make the time to ever say they love them, let alone pay any tribute on the one day a year designated for that activity. The fact they are not recognized by the children they sacrificed for does not make their efforts any less than others.
I am drawn to those who never had children and yet contribute to the world in so many ways, and often are the arms and support to other women as they raise their children. The aunts, and sisters and friends who mean so much to us because they always show up and help love our kids and often become good friends to them as well as us.
I am drawn to those whose children are gone and who never had the chance to finish what was started. I hope their children made time to let their mothers know before it was too late, that they cared.
But most of all I look at the young women who don’t yet know how quickly it is all over and who feel like they are drowning and doing a lousy job. You aren’t. Kids say and do things, sometime horrible things, not because that is who they are or even how they feel, but because you created a safe enough place that they are real people who are learning and growing and they know they can be imperfect without worrying about suffering a loss of your love.
I know what I feel as a mother and how much my children mean to me and the blessing – and the sorrows – they bring to my life. It is the true definition of love. And I know I am blessed to have children, to be in their lives, and that what I do or do not do has had, and will have tremendous impact on their lives. At times it is an overwhelming responsibility. How often I have longed for my own mother to guide me and encourage me. I did not have that.
So I am thankful to the women who have mothered me in so many ways, sometimes just their example that inspired me. And I am grateful for those who shared my journey and therefore blessed my life.
Mothering is THE life force. We share in it collectively as women, regardless of our situations.
Happy Mother’s Day.