My neighbor used to call me every Mother’s Day and say, “Happy Mother’s Day to the woman I know who most wants to be a mother.”
My first year teaching in Orem, a town that neighbors Brigham Young University in Provo, I had a classroom (portable trailer) with 36 sixth graders. At Back-to-School Night, mothers asked, “How many children do you have?” and appeared shocked when I replied, “I don’t have children.”
Later my answer morphed to include my husband’s children and grandchildren. Sometimes, I replied with the number of students in my class.
When I lived in California, I wrote a personal essay about not having children. Another writer commented on my work. She said, “Pushing another being out from between your legs does not make you a mother. As women, we mother. We mother our lovers, our partners, our husbands, and our friends. We mother our parents, our siblings, our neighbors and our pets. As women, we mother. Period.”
For me, having a child simply didn’t work out.
One month after we married, my late husband’s youngest son died in a car accident. We talked about adoption. But, after losing Tommy, Dwight told me, “I can never love anyone like that again.”
Then, in my mid-thirties, I miscarried. But, when I was pregnant, I felt validated.
There were years when I did not leave my house on Mother’s Day. I hated brunch. When the server brought out flowers for “mothers,” I sat still.
For years, my own mother could not go to church on Mother’s Day. It was too painful. At nineteen, her appendix ruptured. She could not have children.
My friend, Tracey, calls me “Mamacita” because I mother my dogs. I spent my adult life mothering my husband after his stroke, mothering my mother when I take her to the doctor, mothering dogs, mothering my students, and loving. Moms love.
Today, I will walk my dogs, visit the nursery for flowers, and make brunch to celebrate my mother.
First, I want to wish ALL of my friends, a very HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY. You inspire me.
Happy Mother’s Day to me, too.