When I first worked in the city, a woman asked if I had any children. "Nope. I'm not married," I said. "You don't have to be married to have children," she explained. As was one of nine kids, I valued the concept of a two-parent household. But I did make another observation: One didn't have to give birth to be a mother.
My mother wasn’t a fan of Mother’s Day. She said it was a guilt holiday, created to profit retailers and greeting card companies. Thanks to modern technology, if my Google search proved correct, it’s safe to say that Mother's Day began with genuine gratitude for the heart of one particular mother in a time of strife, brutality and suffering.
According to Wikipedia, Mother's Day began in 1908 when a woman, named Ann Jarvis, held a memorial in Grafton, West Virginia to honor her deceased mother, a peace activist who treated wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War. She cared for other’s sons as though they were her own. The true missionary heart of a mother.
Years after Mom passed, I met a friend I knew in childhood, who said that when she was a kid, my mother consoled her when somebody she loved passed. I admit, I felt jealous. How did Mom find time to inspire somebody else's child with nine of us? I wondered. Sure, I reasoned, that’s why there wasn’t enough of her time to spread around.
Hindsight is 20/20.
Mom’s company was in demand because she was fun, warm, calming. She gave attention to the small things, things I later discovered weren’t so small. She pointed out the miracles in nature, like the intricate artwork on the wings of a butterfly, the variety of birds that sprang around our backyard in summer, the coo of my little sister when she was an infant. Mom attributed all of the wonder in nature to God’s brilliance, his sense of humor and generous love. And over time her faith inspired some of our closest friends, and that has boomeranged around and blessed many, me included, throughout life.
My closest friend’s mother, whose nickname was “Freckles” stepped in, like a second mother. She could have doubled as a CIA agent, because she arrived to the impenetrable places in my life, including the labor room when I was in premature labor with our first son. She sent my husband home to rest and sat beside me, and told me to squeeze her hand.
After Freckles went home to God, others came forth and told stories about their experiences of her kindness and generosity. She never did it for glory, but I wondered if she knew just how much she was appreciated.
I know a lot of mothers who never actually gave birth, who make life special for others. They’ve blessed, consoled and inspired. They're women after God’s own heart: full of brilliance, humor and generous love and they make this world a better place.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!