There was a Mother’s Day about a month before my mom died, but I don’t remember it. I remember seeing her frail yellowed body in the hospital bed as the priest gave her last rites. I remember picking out the outfit she would be buried in. I remember the shoes I wore to her wake. Black ballet flats with the ribbons tied around my ankles, so very ’89. I remember seeing her in the coffin. I remember my mind imagining she was still breathing. But I don’t remember that last Mother’s Day.
I hope we did it well. I hope she was treated right. I hope she knew how much she was loved.
I was 16 when I lost her to cancer. Every Mother’s Day since I’ve mourned the loss, some years deeper than others. It’s always a strange place for me, even when I became a mother myself. I was always stuck between aching for what I no longer had and feeling guilt for my poor children. Did they notice how sad their motherless mother was? Did it ruin the day for them? And such is the life of a mother. Is everybody else ok on MY day?
Every year, without fail, there is guilt and sadness and a feeling of not having done “it” right. Every year I’m left with an emotional hangover.
I have had 28 Mother’s Days without her, far more than I ever had with her. The ache is still there. It’s more dull now, but it makes its presence known. It’s funny. When you’re a motherless child, no matter how old you are, you’re constantly seeking a mother in every woman you meet. And that’s what I discovered over the years about women, about dames, about broads and chicks. There is a mother in every woman you meet.
It matters not if she is technically a mother, whether she bore her own, are hers through marriage, whether she fostered or adopted. Whether they’re with her or not. Whether she tried and it couldn’t happen. Whether she decided she didn’t want any at all. Whether her womb was home for another. Every woman is a mother.
Whether her babies have four legs or two or whether she’s on this journey as one. Whether she fed from a bottle or from her breast. Whether she’s having a hard time or finding it to be a breeze. Every woman is a mother.
Whether she’s lost one too soon. Whether there’s distance or angst or strife. If all the years were perfect or even if they weren’t. Every woman is a mother.
Whether she was at home, in a hospital, or in a cab up the street, with meds or without. No matter how she gave birth, every woman is a mother.
If she’s struggling, if she’s not. If her children require special care or have special needs. Every woman is a mother.
Whether she’s at home or goes away, she’s working and she’s a mother.
If she’s gay, straight, bi, cis, or trans. No matter her color on the rainbow, every woman is a mother.
Whether she’s a tiger mom, a helicopter mom, attached or free range. Whether she’s read every book and consulted a physician. Whether she’s winging it and following her gut. If she homeschools or leaves them at the bus stop. Every woman is a mother.
If she’s well or she’s not. Whether she’s differently abled than you. Every woman is a mother.
If you like her or you don’t. If her hair is gray, her pants don’t fit. No matter the hue of her skin. If her lashes are false, her lips too red. Maybe she’s quiet, she’s shy. Perhaps you find her to be too much. Not enough. Or somewhere in between. She’s young. She’s old. She can’t handle it or she can’t get enough. Every woman is a mother.
Every woman is a mother. With a smile on her face, a burden upon her shoulders, an ache in her heart. Some will show you, others tend to hide.
Every woman is a mother with a moral and a fable and a pearl of wisdom. If you listen she will tell. If you let her she will show you. Ask her to coffee, sit down with some wine. Be quiet. Share a moment. Give her your time. Tell her your dreams and ask her for hers. Plan to create more, newer and grander and bigger than before.
Don’t limit it. Let it expand. Root for each other. Love one another. Be bold. Be brash. Be ever hopeful. Be free. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time without a mother, she may not there, but you are there for me. They are there. We are there.
Every woman is mother. Ask her and you’ll see.
*Featured image courtesy of Pixabay