Today was Mother’s Day. But that experience is not mine. I’ve not birthed anyone (just books, blog posts, a few columns, short stories, some songs.) I know it’s not the same, but they both have similar requirements – time, devotion, creativity and nurturing. What I do know is that what comes into our lives has a divine order to it whether we plan it or not.
Wherever we are, that’s where we’re supposed to be.
Motherhood wasn’t a responsibility I ever wanted – subordinating myself to a blob of protoplasm? Arrival with no instructions? That wasn’t for me. However, a few years have proved that in spite of myself, mothering and nurturing aren’t just about biological offspring.
Nurturing genes inhabited my spirit even as I busily denied them.
I nurtured employees, lots of other people’s children and I was privileged to help raise my three incredibly terrific nephews as they navigated their way through those tumultuous teenage years, while their single mom worked three jobs to keep her family together. Her devotion to her boys was evident in her every breath and it’s still in full bloom today. What an inspiration she was and is. It swells my heart.
For the past twenty years I’ve been Mom to four incredible young adults; my husbands’ children and their spouses, and Nana to their children. After the typical rocky start of any second marriage, these children now fill my life with indescribable joy – I am routinely astounded with the effort they expend to let me know they care. My daughter and I are filled with giggles whenever we’re told how much we look alike. I would choose them for my friends, were we not already connected by marriage. Hell yes I’ll be their Mom. How fortunate am I?
My Mother-in-Law, or Mother-In-Love as she likes to say, is a very tough lady, that one. But there is no doubt in my bones that we love each other, biology be damned. It’s not an easy love – nurturing her can be a challenge (she turns 98 this week) but it springs from my heart unsolicited, and pleases me that I feel such generosity without the prerequisite blood. We call her the universal Mama, as she is still Mama to many of my husband’s school friends, fifty years after the fact. Having lost their own mothers, they call, they write, they visit. Pretty amazing those ties that bind and how comforting that those of us whose mother’s are no longer here, are showered with her boundless love.
Fifteen years ago last week I lost my Mom, but I can see her like it was yesterday, taking her last breath. Her nurse told me, “Appalachian women die like they live – hard.” The awesomeness of her dying matched the fierce determination with which she faced raising us alone, after my Father died. When her time came, she was done and she told me so. But I wasn’t ready — we never are. There is no other experience like losing ones’ mother. As long as they are with us, we get to stay the children. Hope for approval springs eternal. I miss her more now that she’s gone than I ever did when I was hopping up and down, desperately trying to get her approval. The little straggly flowers I plucked from a neighbor’s rose garden when I was five didn’t do the trick. Go figure. So much biology reflected in the mirror, so little reflected in our connection.
So biology has little to do with Mother’s Day at my house. It has everything to do with the extraordinary people who are destined to come into our lives, and with whom we share ourselves. Guess I am where I’m supposed to be. Lovely. Can you hear God laughing?