Every second Sunday in May, we pause to say "thanks" to mothers. And that is an honor well deserved. No single day can capture the essence of the gift that is a mother’s love. And yet, for some of us, Mother's Day is a complicated mixture of joy and happiness, but also sorrow and loss.
For those of us who have lost mothers or grandmothers much, much too soon, Mother's Day is a time of remembering, but also for mourning. The loss of a mother leaves a hole in your life that time never heals. And so this holiday reminds you that you are a "motherless child" and that you do indeed feel "a long way from home" because of that loss, even as an adult. And for those of us who are motherless daughters, the loss of that special female bond is irreplaceable. There is no greeting card to capture both this powerful sense of loss, but also the profound wellspring of memories.
And there are others who are motherless because of abandonment, forced separation, or general estrangement; people for whom a relationship with a mother is extremely complicated for a wide variety of reasons. Not every mother is a loving mother; not every mother has made good choices for her children. Not every parent and child relationship can be summed up by a Hallmark greeting card or a jewelry commercial. So how do you celebrate an occasion with cards, flowers, and candy when you are working through anger, despair, or grief?
So I want to pause for a moment, even in this weekend of celebration, to reflect on loss, because all of our lives are shaped by it. We find it difficult to talk about, even though it is a common denominator that binds us across race, creed, color, gender, class, political affiliation, and sexual orientation. I am a motherless daughter and the loss of my mother has shaped me in profound ways. Grief and loss mold us in ways seen and unseen. This loss has left a void in my life that nothing has ever filled. Because the truth is: time does not heal all wounds…time simply softens the scars.
On Mother's Day, I pray that we will celebrate all the mothers in our lives; biological and adopted mothers; grandmothers and aunties; "play" mothers and godmothers; church mothers and neighborhood mothers. Let us celebrate the biological ties of motherhood, but let us also celebrate the power of love and nurturing from all the women in our lives, even those women with whom we share no blood ties.
Celebrate all the women who were not allowed to be mothers to their children. Celebrate all the women who cannot or will not ever be mothers. Celebrate all the women who made the courageous decision to give their children to families who could care for them. Celebrate all the women who, when left and abandoned, made a way out of no way for their children. Celebrate all the complications of motherhood...even loss.
And while you celebrate, say a prayer for those who so deeply feel the pain of being a motherless child.
© Yolanda Pierce