Happy Mother’s Day. Happy Meow-ther’s Day. Happy Man-ther’s Day. Happy Mutt-ther’s Day. Well, I could go on and on and on. This day is for celebrating Mothering, in whatever form it appears. Full of sweet. Full of sorrow. Full of truth.
I worked in pediatric oncology. Happy Memories Day to all of you who I loved and cared for back then, who lost, way back then. I worked in adult oncology. Happy Day to all of you, who will have a soft, warm heart today, remembering. I worked in psychiatry. Happy Day to all of you, for whom this day brings a salty sting, and a blackness. For you, I hope one day these give way to a sturdy healing, wrapped in compassion for your story, and your mother’s story, and your mother’s mother’s story. These things have a long life, you know?
Here, I am writing in bed. My kids brought me breakfast in bed. I have the most spectacular bed head. I can see the perfect weather outside, a brilliant medium blue sky, and a gentle breeze. I am in no hurry, but I will get out there and seize this day. Selfishly, I am hoping some coffee arrives here soon, but my well-trained ear does not yet hear the sounds that make my smile big on a Sunday.
Last night, I opened my file cabinet and reached into the file marked “Documents.” I pulled out an envelope that has softened, the way paper does with time, and with some of my son’s earliest pen doodles on one side. It holds my birth certificate. Last night, I peeked at it, after everyone had gone to bed. I don’t look at it often, but apparently enough that the creases in the paper are starting to give way. I am, after all, turning forty this year.
I was raised by a woman who loves my father fiercely. They are best friends. I was raised by a woman who gave me two sisters, who I love very much, and whose daughters I love very much. I was raised by this woman, though someone else is on my birth certificate, and I have not seen her since infancy. There is a story there, but I will keep that tucked into family lore.
Before I was held, and fed, and loved by the woman who raised me, I crawled and toddled through a short window of motherlessness. In that window, I was fathered. I was fathered, and grandmothered, and grandfathered.
So, Mother’s Day in my house is a rich time. It’s a time to reflect on where I’ve landed. It’s a time to look at the faces of my children, and let them know there is no better job than mothering them. It’s a time to honor the whole history of mothers I’ve known, and every single thing they’ve taught me that informs how I love my children fiercely, imperfectly, and with great joy despite all my flawed moments.
It’s a day to thank my mother (the woman who raised me, with her own human flaws and very best efforts) for walking that path ahead of me, and showing me that the story keeps evolving. The love grows, and stretches, and shifts, and even through hard times, is there—even through distance, and the strain that accompanies that, is still there.
And for me, no, it’s not a time to pine for a person I don’t know, and wonder what my life could have been. It’s a day to feel gratitude for the life I have lived. It’s a day to nod to my story, and breathe a little more deeply, and wrap it up, softly, and walk out into this gorgeous day, with my own bamtastic little family. And hey, guess what? I hear coffee beans grinding.
**May your day bring whatever your heart longs for, and may you feel loved today.