A lot of years ago I was told by a doctor who missed the class on bedside manners, “Your insides are a mess, you will never have a baby.” A month later, I was standing in a hospital room looking at my mom who had just been told she had cancer in the lining of her brain. Three weeks later, she would die, and one week later, I would find out my mother-in-law left my father-in-law for her high school boyfriend while on her 35th wedding anniversary in Hawaii (where the boyfriend lived), and where she would re-marry and live until she died a few years ago.
Yes, that all happened.
I felt utterly motherless. And for a time, I was. Except for not really.
Being a mother means offering unconditional love, well-meaning and timed advice, supportive full-on body hugs. And sometimes it means saying the tough things that will help your child in the long run. What it doesn’t mean is that you must have had a fetus inside of your womb to be someone’s mom. And I found back then, as I find now, it comes from all sorts of sources when I need it most.
This mother’s day, remember to remember your mother–whether she’s living or she has passed. But also remember to remember those who’ve filled in for your mother. I have a lot of friends who’ve played mother to me throughout my life. My sisters and relatives, my husband, sometimes even my dog have mothered me.
I see mothering as not just a biological job description, but as a universal feeling that can come from anywhere, and anyone who makes you feel cared for beyond all measure. (The beach has played mother to me on many occasions. I know that sounds weird, but it has.) Gratitude to all those people who have mommy-ed me, when my own mom couldn’t. It meant something, it mattered, and I will never forget you for it.