When a woman becomes a mother, she, whether she knew it beforehand or not, joins a special club. This club is very large, and has many different sub-sections. Some of us belong to several of these sub-sections, and some of us belong to only one of them, but we are members all the same. Some mothers never held their babies. Some never felt their babies move inside of them. Some mothers lost their babies after a few short hours, days, weeks, months, or years. Some mothers have children with special needs. Some have boys. Some have girls. Some have twins, triplets, septuplets, etc. Some mothers have post-partum depression. Some moms are single. Some are divorced. Some moms adopted their children. Some mothers have fussy babies, and some have “easy” ones, (whatever that means) and some have children that they’ve only ever dreamed of in their mind’s eye. Some mothers have lost their own mothers. No matter what kind of mother you are, which part of the club you belong to, the moment you become a mother you understand two things: the love you have for your child stretches further, wider, and higher than the ends of the universe… and that mothers look out for one another no matter what.
I’ve always known that I am surrounded by strong women and strong mothers. Being a mama is something that I’ve always wanted, and I’ve spent so many years saving up advice, strategies, and stories from these women. They might not have realized at the time, but I was there… listening and watching and learning. I’ve watched them be mothers to their unborn children. I’ve watched them be mothers to their infants, their toddlers, their teenagers, and their adult babies. Their courage, skill, and strength is what gives me my courage, skill, and strength. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here… I wouldn’t be who I am.
This mother’s day, I wanted to take some time to personally thank some of the mothers in my life, near and far, for all they’ve done for me.
To Adele, my Mawma: When I think of the different sub-sections of the club, and how some mothers straddle the space between two or more of them, I think of you. You raised three handsome, kind, caring boys. Today, only two of them are still with us. It was not until I had my own son in my arms, that I could have conceived of the grief a mother would feel while burying her own child. Still, you carry on. You shower your family with unconditional love and adoration, while carrying a scar that most of us know nothing about. You are, and always will be, one of my role models. I love you!
To Shirley, my Oma: If I’ve never said this aloud to you, I’m saying it now. You are the glue that holds our family together. Your unwavering faith is something I admire. The ways in which you love, encourage, and support your children, your grandchildren, and now your great-grandchild are truly remarkable. The belief that family is the most important thing is something that I’ve learned from you, and hope to pass along to my own family someday.
To Rebecca, my Aunt: It takes a special kind of woman to be a military wife. It takes an incredible woman to be a military mom. Thank you for raising three, beautiful, smart, curious, and kind girls. Your family has traveled the world, and lived in countries like South Korea, Italy, Germany, and Australia. You have done a lot of your mothering while Uncle Steve is away, serving our country. Thank you for being the strong mama that you are, and for the example you’ve set for me over the years.
To Molly, my Aunt: My entire life, I’ve wanted to be exactly like you. You are smart, beautiful, funny, and thoughtful. We share a love for Camp Mikell, a profession in education, and now, I am a mother, with a son of my own. The ways in which you balance motherhood, work, and play with ease are more than admirable, and if my son turns out half as wonderful as yours are, I will consider that to be a massive success. Thank you for loving me and my family as much as you love your own.
To Laurie, my Mother-in-Law: One sub-section of the club includes the mothers who gain children through marriage. Although, long before I married your son, you accepted me for who I was and considered me a member of the family. This mother’s day, I want to thank you for the job you did in raising your children. Your daughters are delightful young women, and I love them very much. Your son is, in very large part, an incredible father and husband because of you. Thank you for sharing your life, compassion, and heart with him, because he has turned around and shared all of those things with me and our baby.
To Michele, my Mother: Mommy, thank you for everything. I literally owe my life to you! When a woman becomes a mother, I think that – inevitably – her relationship with her own mother transforms. There is an understanding that forms, a knowledge that exists, a love that becomes transparent. I now know that for the last 27.5 years, every single sacrifice you’ve made, tear you’ve shed, decision you’ve had to make, etc… had my brothers and me at the heart of it. A very important gift you’ve given me recently is the gift of recovery and sobriety. My son will truly know who you are, and for that, I thank you. Your love, advice, and support have carried me through good days and bad. Now that I am also a mother, I understand the depths of your heart and soul more than I ever did before. ❤
To Caroline: Your story, your words, your strength, and your daughter have touched me in ways you may never know. I can truly say that you have been my inspiration for writing about my journey, acknowledging my feelings, and expressing my concerns/joys/sorrows/etc. You have taught me that motherhood takes many shapes and forms, and that honesty and compassion for each other is the most important thing. You’ve taught me that you are not alone, that I am not alone, that we are not alone. Thank you for being so open and courageous. You and your angel are in my thoughts every day.
This week, wish the mothers in your life a Happy Mother’s Day. Not just your mother, every mother that you know. In fact, if you see a mother on the street, or in the store this week, give her a high-five… or a smile… or a hug. She is a badass. She has been to places that not every person will go to. She has seen things that not every person will see. She is a member of a club. The kind of club that lifts each other up, whenever, wherever, and however we can. To all of the mamas out there, whether I know you personally or not, Happy Mother’s Day! I now stand with you, and in awe of you.