For those of you who don’t know, I do have children. I didn’t have the joy of carrying them in my womb, but they are no less my children for it. Some of them carry my DNA, some do not. I am not their mother. Am I still their father? On this day when we honor mothers, and motherhood, this day created by the greeting card industry for profit, I am no less contemplative of what it means to be a mother. Is it simply the act of carrying a child in your womb? Is that what makes someone a mother?
If that were so, many women I have honored as mothers throughout my life would not get that title. Many others I have never seen as mothers would be granted the title anyway. No, there is more to motherhood than simple biology. Motherhood is a state of being, that has nothing to do with biology, and everything to do with altruistic love. Motherhood, therefore, knows no boundary of gender or sexuality. Some of the most wonderful mothers I have ever known have never given birth. Some even have no wombs, and never have.
Today, in the MCC church I attend, the senior pastor asked all who were mothers, or had mothered at any time in their life, to rise for recognition. All around me, the most loving people I know rose. I was proud simply to be in their company. And then, a truly amazing thing happened. One of them told me I should stand. She saw in me what I truly believed no one had ever seen. I was touched beyond belief.
It was not only my children that I mothered. On many a Mother’s Day, and every other day, I gave my all to another one who needed me. She is gone now, and no longer need wonder if her children will call on the second Sunday in May. Eleven months ago today, she crossed over to the other side. I am sad for them that they cannot make that call today or any other day.
No, my children will not send me cards today. They won’t call just to say “Happy Mother’s Day.” Some of them refuse to even acknowledge my existence. And that’s okay too, for they have their journey to make. Should that ever change, they will find me still here, still loving them.
I am far from perfect. I made my mistakes, and some of them were really big ones. It’s likely that, because of those, I won’t hear from them on Father’s Day either. But whether they choose to acknowledge me or not, I will always love them. And isn’t that really the definition of motherhood?