I don’t spend my days listening to fringe news or scouring YouTube to follow the latest conspiracy down into the void, perhaps that is because I am busy encouraging young people to read slowly and carefully and respond in a way that shows their own well-developed reasoning, but even if I wasn’t, I’d like to think I would spend my energy in innovative adaptions to our new COVID 19 reality. There are days when I wonder who has the nerve to grab their military weapons and take to the street with dangerous demands, and on those days I remember the audacity of white privilege and the lengths it will take someone, and then I remember this is not the case for black men who are hunted without penalty, and then I remember still, oh yeah, I’ve got a job to do, so I go back to thinking of my students, who are still showing up by the way. By whatever determination they are conjuring, they are my heroes today, so I focus on them and ignore the crazy out there.
That isn’t what I want to write about though. Enough with a world of crazy and the sensational headlines, let’s talk mothers, aunts, and step-moms, and your girlfriends who are always there to support your mothering. Today, let’s remember those ladies, who bathed you when you were a mess, and held your hand when the world got dark, women who said do it, and pushed you onward when you were sliding back. The mothers who stripped your hurt and replaced it with hope. Those ladies who were the prettiest ones for ever and ever and even when their faces were roadmaps to loads of worry you could find a happy day. In fact, you were always their happiest day. Just you. I had such a mother. She was a larger than life forever waiting for another party to start hard working and smart cookie type. Her laugh legendary. Her smile big and easy. Her ability to give endless. And as flawed as they come, needing to apologize endlessly for all sorts of mix-ups and wrong comments and weird gifts. But she was perfectly imaginative and daring, everyone’s best date who looked smashing in orange and loved me best.
I never thought about what kind of mother I wanted to be, I jumped into the role before I had time to sort that out. I can tell you I felt pretty fierce about the whole protecting my baby thing. They stayed by my side day and night for a long long time. There was hardly a second I was without one or two or three of them. But as they became big people and began to wander off into their own journey’s I surprisingly let them go with much delight. There were summer camps and adventures they ventured on beyond me, and as they took on these new experiences we all grew. I felt myself, almost instinctually pushing them to get out there more. Sure, I did the whole worry thing that runs as blood through a mother’s veins, but I encouraged them out too. Off to college. Off to Los Angeles. Off to your own passions and drive and loves. And by doing this I met these three anew. As people who I could learn from, lean on, and admire. One of my favorite photos of us was taken on a street corner, late, very late at night, celebrating, of course. I could not have been happier to know that not only did I love them, but I really liked them too. In the midst of all the city energy and partying and laughing and dancing and music we found this moment.
So much of my mothering is from my mother. There is little doubt in that. I was perhaps more fortunate in that I stopped at three, so I had time for each, and that I had more freedom with my time. Her life was less her own. Except when she was with her best friend, who was not only my godmother but my aunt too. Their friendship was one that lasted all the decades they lived, one that I have written about countless times, but it is hard not to mention when thinking of mothers supporting each other through what comes your way. One with an alcoholic husband, the other with one who wandered, both with two handfuls of children, and mix in the everyday pulses and pains, and you have two women who leaned heavily on each other. I have no doubt they would not have made it a day without each other. We all benefited greatly from their powerful alliance. They knew work hard and could laugh at themselves too.
When I put on lipstick, lift a pretty glass, dance straight out the door and across the yard just to take in this life straight into my heart, I swell knowing all the mothering love that’s rained over me. For Mother’s Day I wish all the ladies in every house, for all the ways you nurture this world, a bursting bouquet of honor and gratitude. I’ve been a lucky recipient from many of you.