Today we celebrate moms: biological moms, stepmoms, adoptive moms, grandmoms, our best friend’s mom that also became our mom, single-dad moms, teacher moms, mentor moms … ALL. THE. MOMS.
This special day gives me a chance to pause and think about motherhood. What does it mean to be a mom? Is it something as simple and instantaneous as birthing a child, or is it something deeper?
One of the most important people in anyone’s life is their mom. We often associate the push and pull of life that began in the womb with our biological mom. But the concept of motherhood is so much bigger than biology. It encompasses wisdom, helping us process life’s ups and downs, and a connection that lasts beyond a mother’s Earthly days.
I’ve experienced many sides of motherhood. I’m a daughter, and a biological mom to three beautiful children. I’ve also enjoyed being a teacher-mom, friend-mom, and mentor-mom. Becoming any type of mom is a gift. It is a treasured role in another human being’s life, one which requires love and compassion toward someone in a vulnerable state. Someone you yearn to nurture to independence in the world by equipping them with the knowledge you fought to earn—so that your child, student, friend, mentee can rise to the next level and journey to the place in life you wish you had found a little sooner.
I saw a dear friend (I’ll call her L) the other day. L was kind and told me I looked like a young woman. I accepted the compliment, but proceeded to point out the increasing number of grey hairs on my head, fine lines on my face, and gravity-affected body parts on my chest. L responded with some motherly wisdom imparted to her by her grandmother, whom she lovingly called Ma.
On this occasion, L and her cousin were bathing Ma. This bathing was a humbling experience for all three women, and as sometimes happens during awkward life moments, L and her cousin got tickled as they lifted and washed underneath their grandmother’s breasts. It was in the midst of this moment, when life had stripped away the layers of a hardworking 90-year-old woman who had raised her own food, canned her own vegetables, and killed her own hogs, cows, and chickens, that Ma laughed and said the words that stuck with L and now stick with me: “Girls, these titties ain’t worth nothing.”
I laughed out loud as I pictured this precious moment between Ma and her grandchildren, who needed those words that day to get through an uncomfortable but real place in life, and as I realized that I need Ma’s words for the aging process at work in my life.
The bare threads of Ma’s soul revealed to me what it truly means to be a mom: Being a mom is more than just an act of birthing a child and taking part in raising them. Being a mom is having a never-ending relationship with your child—one that your children and grandchildren will recount and share with others well beyond your Earthly years.
I reached out to L as I was working on this post to ask her what she thought Ma was really telling her and her cousin that day. L told me, “I believe she meant that we should not be as concerned with what we look like as with who we are. With age comes wisdom. Beauty is worth giving up in exchange for the wisdom of old age.”
And my favorite part was this: “She was truly one of a kind. Young at heart until her last breath. As a matter of fact, we were getting her bathed and dressed for a date at a Tavern for pizza and beer!”
In this experience, one amazing woman’s legacy continued to mother others, even someone who had never met her. Reflecting on this brings me back to the concept motherhood is much bigger than birth or direct parenting. It encompasses all the nurturing, patience, and presence we give to one another.
On this Mother’s Day, let us spend time with all the moms, listening as they impart words of wisdom to help us stay young at heart as we grow old.
Happy Mother’s Day, my friends!