Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day

I'm awake and can hear my multiple children running around the living room and kitchen.

I looked across our bedroom and noticed a new, beautiful gardenia bloom just opened on my potted gardenia near the window. Gardenia's were always my Mom's favorite, and having one growing in my house always makes me think of her and smile. I miss her this morning.

My husband told me to stay in bed (he usually gets up with the kids because morning is the best sleep time for pregnant-leg-cramping-Calee) (and also because he's an actual angel masquerading as a regular human). "Don't get up!" he insisted as he walked out into the fray.

It took me a minute to remember that today is Mother's Day.

I know what the kids are doing in the kitchen, and why I need to stay in bed. They're making me breakfast in bed and I'll ruin it if I get up.

I know because they've told me that's what they always did for their Mom who lives in heaven now on Mother's Day.

My heart hurts.

My heart hurts because I love them and knowing that they might be hurting this morning hurts me.

I know that they love another Mom - a Mom who I've heard endless stories about. It's so bizarre that there is a huge part of their life that I was absent for, because I feel so connected here. Like we've always been together.

But we haven't.

I think of all of the other stepmoms/bonus moms that I know. I wonder how many of them are hurting this morning...I think about the sacrifice that is letting new children have your whole heart, while knowing that you'll never be able to have 100% of their's. Don't get me wrong - there is SO much joy, too. So much. I never considered the painful part, least not until I felt it for myself.

I think of the adopted moms that I know. I think about their struggles...I think about that kind of mothering experience. I imagine it's a lot like building the connection that I have with my bonus kids...only their kids might not understand what love even is. These kids have no concept of a family. Permanence. Stability. There are so many foundational pieces to put into place before deep connectivity is even a possibility.

I think about the decade I spent wishing I were married and had children. I think about watching everyone I knew announce relationships and engagements and marriages and babies. I remember when one of the girls I used to babysit announced her engagement. It was like salt in an open wound. I think of the women my age (and older) that I know personally (or who I've met at events) who are in that space...just...waiting. Searching. Praying. Feeling the sting today.

I recently read a quote by Sheri Dew that I feel like I should share:

"Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve "the mother of all living" - and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born." -Sheri Dew (Are We Not All Mothers?)

(This talk is incredible and everyone should read it, btw.)

I'm running out of time before I have to run to speak in a sacrament meeting in Bountiful. Don't get me started on feeling like a bad Mom this's my first Mother's Day with my new kids and I totally spaced the MOTHERS DAY PROGRAM in church that's happening today. So I'll be missing it. Yes. Missing our very first one. Because I committed months ago to speaking in another ward that meets at the same time as ours. I may or may not have cried a little bit when I realized. They cried, too. I feel awful. Happy Mother's Day.


I want to put it out into the universe that I believe Sheri Dew is right. I believe that as women, we are each called to motherhood - even if the maternity part of motherhood doesn't happen to us in this life.

"While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord's language, the word 'mother' has layers of meaning. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us. Some of us, then, must find simply find other ways to mother. And all around us those who need to be loved and led." Sheri Dew

As a testament to that truth...I want to share that one of the best mothers I've ever known is a woman who was never able to have children of her own. She lived through years of grief, struggling to understand the why. You know what, though? She didn't let that heartbreak stop her from developing her own divine characteristics of motherhood. She learned to serve, to love deeply, to give of herself wholly.

That woman is now who my children will grow up calling Grandma. She chose to take on a whole slew of adult stepchildren - including myself - and grandbabies when she married my Dad after Mom passed away.

She stepped up.

She didn't let the fact that her calling to motherhood looked different than she expected stop her from being an incredible mother.

I've experienced the power of unconventional mothers in so many aspects of my life since Mom died. I've needed Mom so deeply...through my divorce, trying to figure out my first baby. Heavens, I need her now to figure out ALL of these babies haha.

I am so, eternally grateful for the women in my life who have stepped up to mother me in her absence.

Some have had their own kids, some haven't.

ALL of them have fulfilled roles as mothers to me in my life.'s a shout out to YOU, my beloved mothers. Some of you conventional, some of you not.

I believe this day is for all of us. Today is for my Moms who are in the trenches of motherhood...sleepless nights, poopy diapers or struggling adult children, stress and schedules and exhaustion.

AND it is also for my sweet sisters with no babies (who aren't married, or struggle with infertility), to my friends who have chosen to not have children, for my empty-nesting-mothers, my fellow bonus Moms, adoptive mothers, aunts, cousins, friends, neighbors who don't fit the mold of "ideal" motherhood.

We are ALL mothers. All of us.

I love you. Happy Mother's Day.



Jessica said...

Simply beautiful, thanks for shining even when life is complicated.

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