A mother gave birth to her youngest child. Seven had come before her, and six had survived. She had more on her plate than many mothers could ever fathom. One day, as the youngest child went with her mother to visit a friend, the three year old turned around. She did not see her mother anywhere.
“Where is my mother?” she said. I will go look for her.
The preschooler ran down the road to find her mother. She came across an elderly couple working in the lawn outside their home.
“Are you my mother?” the child asked the woman.
“No, but I will help you find her,” said the woman.
The elderly couple fed her cookies and milk and spend over an hour trying to interpret the mispronounced last name. They finally got a hold of the frantic mom and returned the child safely to her nest.
The young child grew until she was in grade school. She found herself in a unfamiliar town, a new school, and a different neighborhood. On the first day of school the child and her sister walked together toward their new schools, the young girl going to the elementary school and her older sister starting her senior year in high school. As they approached the street where her older sister needed to turn, the nine year old looked up with misty oval eyes and pleaded:
“Please, will you walk with me the rest of the way? I am scared to go by myself.”
“I am not your mother. I am your sister. But I will take you.” The two sisters held hands and walked to the elementary school. The older sister introduced her young sister to the teacher, making sure she was safe and secure before venturing back to the high school where she was counted tardy on her first day of class.
The child stopped to think. The elderly couple and sister were not her mother. “I have a mother,” said the child. “I know I do. But I am seeing many other types of mothers too.”
In the blink of an eye, the child was a teenager. She liked socializing and spending more time away from home. Then tragedy struck when three friends were in a automobile accident.
“I need you like a mother!” two best friends said as they comforted each other and mourned the fact that life would never be the same. And it wasn't.
The journey continued. The twenty-something year old married and looked at her husband’s mother.
“Are you my mother?” she questioned.
“No, I am your mother-in-law, and I promise to never act like a mother-in-law, for I cherish you.” She then lived up to her promise.
Two years passed and the young woman found herself screaming in excruciating pain during the birth of her first child.
“Yes, you are a mother now,” stated the woman doctor. “Congratulations!” The same doctor delivered the speech and the congratulations two more times over the next six years, placing the ultimate gift of love and responsibility into the new mother's arms.
“Are you my mother?” the frightened, depressed, postpartum mother said to her neighbor.
“No, but I will always treat you like another daughter,” she said as she forced her outside for a walk in the fresh air. The neighbor insisted that there was ALWAYS a light at the end of every dark tunnel. Then she lifted her up, up, UP.
“Are you my mother?” the mother screamed to Mother Nature. The forest did not answer, but instead blew the breeze gently to dry her tears, scented the lush moss and vegetation to heal her aching soul, and opened fields of wildflowers amongst the creek to let the sun shine upon her face. She gave her mountains to climb and breathtaking views to remind her that peace existed.
“YOU are my mother,” she stated to her birth mother, as she watched her interact with her grandchildren in a loving and tender way.
“I understand now that I am a mother. I empathize. I know you did your best and I love you.”
“Are you our mother?” my three children teasingly asked.
“I am one of your mothers. In your lifetime you will meet many mothers disguised in names and labels of all sorts. They will come to you when you least expect them, and when you need them most. For motherhood is far too difficult to navigate alone, and much too joyful to keep to yourself,” I replied.