As we approach this Sunday in May when families sing the praise of the woman who brought them into this world, or the woman who adopted them, those mothers and step-mothers or aunts and grandmothers, let us also remember the mentors and caregivers, for there are many ways to mother after all; let us collectively nod our heads to those who nursed through feverous nights or cheered during wet soccer games and heralded us along with a nudge and even a song. Mother’s Day celebrates the cycle of love spiraling down the generations, from those who mother to all the rest. Honor her, in her multitude of forms, indeed.
I certainly was a fortunate daughter, whose mother not only found time to care for her six, but so many others. For decades she entered homes of the very sick and lent what comfort she could to those in need. She was also the life of every party she attended and certainly our favorite date whenever we could get her into our calendars. The right shade of lipstick, an ease in any gathering, and always a story teller: most found her memorable. There are my first recollections too, of her creating a pretend world for us to imagine our little selves right into. Playing for hours in the small park, trading bits of leaves for currency, donning new names for each imagined scenario, she always allowed us plenty of exploration. Even then, she was daring us to be whatever we dared to be. Royalty. Firefighter. Hero. Storekeeper. It mattered not. We changed roles as we wished.
During my mother’s last days, while we attended her in her home, my daughter, 3000 miles away, picked up her pencil and started drawing. She combed through old photos of her grandmother and attempted several images before landing on this one; as a young woman with plenty of attitude and style standing on the same beach we three summered on, and those a generation before us, and now, another coming up. A family haven that she loved, as we all did. She drew day and night as her grandmother drifted away, but in the end she captured the very soul of her. Those crazy strings that bind us tight regardless of time or space were in play then, as they still are today.
My mother, as perhaps your mother, was a tremendous cheerleader. And her cheer had no restrictions. She applauded all efforts to bring into being your inner most desire. The spring before she passed, the three of us, my daughter, mother, and I, spent a few priceless days and nights together. She encouraged my daughter to let her mind, her heart, and her soul soar into her deepest dreams. She asked, what do you want to manifest in this life? It did not come to the surface at first, for my daughter was exhausted and beaten down by the demands of her current work life, but with her grandmother’s gentle prodding, and listening, it did come. That was three years ago. Perhaps not surprisingly, much of those whispered wishes are now reality.
And as she continues to paint I am reminded of the role of the mother. We are here to hold, yes; but also to prod the little ones along. To open the windows and doors wide enough to illuminate beyond every doubt. To push, to question, with love. Are you using all that you were gifted? Is there something else you want to create before your day ends? Are you being your very best being? After all, that’s what a mother hopes for as they hold your infant self. The promise. The possible.
Let your gift to them be that excellent. Long strides. High reach. Be that you.