Who is your mother?
When we answer that question, we all probably think first of our biological mothers, the women who brought us into the world, the women who packed our school lunches and helped us with homework and told us bedtime stories. But “mothering” is an activity that covers a lot of ground: there are countless women out there (and a few men, too) who have played a significant role in “mothering” us. Unfortunately, on Mother’s Day, we tend to forget them. We send Mom a bouquet of flowers and a pretty card, maybe take her out for a meal, and call it a day.
Maybe this year we can remember a few of the other people who have been (and, if we’re lucky, still are) mothers to us. The ones who chose to be with us despite having no blood ties. The ones who don’t have the prestige of motherhood but have suffered some of its pains and deserve some of its joys.
Who are these women? There are first of all the women who have “mother” in their titles. Stepmothers. Grandmothers. Godmothers. Mothers-in-law. Foster mothers. Adoptive mothers.
Most of these women didn’t have to be in your life. They somehow decided that you were worth their time, attention, and love. Grandmothers who took care of you while your mother worked. Godmothers who brought you to church and on special trips. Stepmothers who loved you as their own. Foster mothers and adoptive mothers who wanted to give you a chance at a great life. Mothers-in-law who welcomed you into their children’s lives. There aren’t very many special cards for them on Mother’s Day, but they deserve special recognition all the same.
And then there are the countless other women who played major roles in your life. Teachers, school nurses, coaches, nuns. Women who might have opened up new worlds to you, who saw your talent for art or music or writing and encouraged you to pursue it.
I had the sometimes-dubious honor of becoming a stepmother when I got married—hey, presto, instant family! My stepchildren were four and five years old when I married their father, so I had to learn about parenting really, really fast. But stepmothers live in a shadow world: we’re not completely one thing or the other, not the “real” mother but not a distant relation, either. And on Mothers’ Day, children always celebrate with their biological mother, if she is living and sharing parenting, leaving stepmothers out in the cold.
I went once to pick my stepdaughter up at her after-school program, and the little girl sitting next to her asked who I was. “My stepmother,” Anastasia said. “Oh, no! They’re mean!” exclaimed her friend. “Not mine,” said Anastasia loyally. That went a long way toward making Mother’s Day bearable for me that year and every year: twenty years on, I’m still holding it in my heart. Being a mother isn’t confined to biology: it’s about what is in people’s hearts.
Perhaps Shakespeare was right when he asked what is in a name. We don’t have to call someone Mom for her to be a loving mother to us. Our Lady is our Mother in heaven, always ready to love and cherish us as her own children.
So Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers! Love is what matters.
Who has been a mother to you that you'd like to remember this Mother's Day? Let us know in the comments below.
by Jeannette de Beauvoir
Looking for a gift for one of the mothers in your life? We have some suggestions!
- Cherished by the Lord: 100 Meditations Sr. Katherine Hermes’ wonderful meditations will guide your mother through whatever she’s facing and affirm that she is beloved by God. They’re short (we know Mom is busy!) and offer Scripture passages and prayers as well.
- Our Lady’s Garden and CD set: Your mother can listen to the exquisite voices of the Daughters of St. Paul choir as she de-stresses and meditates with this beautiful adult coloring book.
- Blessed Are The Stressed: Sr. Lea Hill is our own “crabby mystic,” and she’ll offer your mother the opportunity to explore the Beatitudes and apply them to her own sometimes stressful life.
- Your Love Carries Me: This CD is filled with songs of inspiration and hope, perfect for springtime and Mother’s Day!