Mother’s Day was a bit bittersweet this year, as my grandmother recently passed away. My mother lost her mother; our family lost our British matriarch. We cried through church Sunday morning, sniffling and laughing all at the same time. Celebration and mourning are hard things to hold so closely together.
I’ve become extra grateful for the mother who mothered my mother lately. I’ve been learning more about her life (why does that happen, with grandparents? You learn more after they’ve passed than while they’re still with us), and I’ve been blown away by the sacrifices she made for those she loved. I’ve come to see her as a whole person – with pain and doubts and insecurities as well as joy and love and laughter – instead of simply my grandma. I’ve realized as thankful as I am to have had her as a grandma, I’m even more thankful that my mom was able to have her as a mom.
Which then got me thinking of all the mothers who have touched my life. All the ladies who have impacted my life for the better, who have shaped me into who I am, who have taught me a little more about this crazy thing called life. All of the mothers who mothered them, all of the people they individually mothered and impacted. We truly are all in this together. It really does take a village. I’m so grateful for mine.
First and foremost: to my own biological, you-physically-birthed-me (sorry I was two weeks late and the size of a toddler) mother. Thank you for literally everything. There is no way to sum up in words all you have done for me, and all you continue to do for me. You have always been my number one fan and my closest friend. You are brave and strong and wonderful. You have pushed me further and loved me deeper than I ever knew possible. You forever amaze me. I will always be grateful God chose you for me.
To all of my second moms: my aunts, my best friends’ moms, my mom’s best friends, my self-decided godmothers. Thank you for treating me as your own. Thank you for countless dinners and countless car rides home. Thank you for putting up with me at sleepovers and taking care of me when I was sick at sleepovers and for finding me clothes to wear after unexpected sleepovers. Thank you for welcoming me into your homes and into your lives. Thank you for not making my mother deal with me alone, thank you for providing her with a community in motherhood. Thank you for giving me other strong, loving women to look up to, to strive to be like. Thank you for always cheering me on, from near or far. Your support means the world to me, as you mean the world to me.
To my grandmas, my adopted grandmas, my great aunts, and any mothers of the afore mentioned: Thank you for being the generation who raised the generation who raised me. You did a wonderful job. Before Google, you managed to know exactly what a family needed. Before social media, you managed to make people feel loved and accepted. And then you continued to do these things flawlessly, a second time around, when my generation came to be. You are all rockstars. We will do our best to continue on in your legacy.
To all the women who have nurtured and mothered parts of me and parts of my story: youth leaders, teachers, bible study leaders, mentors, bosses, and friends. You’ll never know how much you have touched my life and how much you have touched my heart. I am thankful for your encouraging words as well as your truthful talks; I am thankful our paths crossed even for the shortest amount of time. Your care and your concern for me and my wellbeing have meant so much and will continue to mean so much. I am who I am because of you.
To my deepest, closest, soul friends. You continue to to shape me into the person I want to became, not by being in a position of motherhood above me but by being partner alongside me. Yet you are nurturing and wise, caring and firm – just as the best mothers are. You have mothered in me a new sense of grace, a new reverence for community, a new appreciation for vulnerability. You have shown me true beauty, you have given me true friendship. You have lavished upon me love and joy and acceptance; I hope I have done a portion of the same to you.
To the mothers of my girls: some of you I’ve met and know, some of you I simply know of. Thank you for trusting me with your teenage daughters. Thank you for loving them to the best of your ability. Thank you for your honesty and your grace, for your sacrifices. I have learned so much from you, even from afar. I have witnessed motherhood in new ways. I will never, ever come close to your place in their lives, but I am humbled by the opportunity to play a small role.
Lastly, to my girls. I am not your mother (thank goodness!); you are not mine. Yet I find myself worrying over you late at night and praying for you in the small moments of the day …at the same time I find myself learning so much about life from you. You inspire me. You push me to be a better person. You teach me daily about love and how to love and His love for us. I might ask strange questions and get the sarcastic response of “Okay, mom” from you. But I will do so gladly. Because that is the highest compliment you can possibly give.
Also, to those of you whose moms are no longer with us or whose mothers weren’t a source of love and joy. I am so, so sorry. I do not know your pain and I do not pretend to understand. I’m sorry this holiday might bring so much hurt to the surface and I’m sorry for all the hurt you’ve gone through. No one can replace a mother – but open yourself up to us, your community. Let us mother you, let us mother each other. You don’t need to celebrate Mother’s Day, but please don’t shut yourself off from celebrating community. Grief shared is halved, but joy shared is doubled.
To all the mothers in my life – biological or adopted, near or far, old or young, with child or barren – thank you. Thank you for lifting me up, for pushing me forward, for letting me lean my head on your shoulder. Thank you for questioning me, inspiring me, molding me, grooming me. Thank you for being a part of my story, thank you for letting me have a page in yours. This world can be rough, especially for girls, and we all need our mothers.