Today is Mother’s Day, and Helen and I gathered with some friends to celebrate the occasion. I asked everyone to reflect on their experiences with their own mothers, as well as for those who are mothers themselves to reflect on that part of their lives. While we enjoyed a delicious brunch, people shared memories, appreciations, as well as challenges and wishes.
On this day, my thoughts naturally turn to my own mother, who died just a couple of days before Mother’s Day in 2013. She was the most caring, generous, and loving person I have ever known, and whatever I am in those areas comes mainly from her. She had a heart as huge as the sky. She was a loving presence in my life for over 60 years, from my first breath in life to her last breath in life. She was always there for me, always rooting for me, always eager to do what she could to support me. Of course we had our challenges and conflicts over the years, but the bond was very deep and very caring. It still is, and always will be.
And yet, so many people have not had that kind of experience with their mothers, or a mother themselves. On this day, we honor all who have nurtured us, and those we have nurtured, whatever the experience, as beautiful expressed in the prayer Circle of Care by Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper:
The truth of human experience dictates that on any given day, we each come to the table with hearts in different places. It is especially so on this day, invented to honor women who nurture.
In this circle of care, we honor the truth that mothering is not and never will be quantified in one single descriptor. Mothering can be elusive or infuriating, fulfilling or confusing, commonplace or triumphant. It exists in the everyday experiences of each person. There is no human being that is not connected to or disconnected from a mother.
And so we honor the complexity of experience, writ large in flowered platitudes, but here in this space laid bare, honoring the truth in each of our hearts. There is room for all in this circle:
If you have carried a child or children, whether or not they came to be born, we see you.
If you have fervently wished to do so, and circumstances of fate made it impossible, we see you.
If you love children we cannot see, whether because of death or estrangement, we see you.
If you never wanted to be a mother, we see you.
If you are happy to mother other people’s children,
as an educator, an auntie, or a foster parent, we see you.
If your mother hurt you, physically or emotionally, we see you.
If you had no mother at all, we see you.
If your mother is or was your best friend, we see you.
If your gender says you are not a mother, and yet you take on the role of nurturer, we see you.
If you wonder whether your mothering has been enough, we see you.
And if yours is a different truth altogether, we honor your unspoken story.
There is room for all in this circle. May it be so, today and always.