Sunday is Mother’s Day and this is the first I have celebrated since my mother’s death. I am not the only one. It seems to me that in the last year many of my friends have lost mothers. We are still grieving and facing a day like this brings back those memories. In some ways it is harder because others are celebrating the joy of being together with their mothers.
Fortunately this day does not just bring back memories of loss. It also brings back memories of joy. I sat here this morning remembering some of my happiest memories of times with my Mum over the last 60 year. I remember her playing with my brothers and me in our backyard when we were kids. I remember her making dresses for me, and teaching me to cook. I remember the trips we took together over the last few years since my Dad died, and I remember the good but painful days I spent at her bedside in those last few days of her life.
Last year for her 90th birthday I put together a memories book for Mum, not realizing that it would become such an important memory book for me too. I will probably look through it many times this weekend laughing, crying and remembering the specialness of my Mum.
These are not the only memories that this day has stirred. Strangely I find myself grieving for the motherhood I have never and will never know. This grief has caught me unawares this morning. And I think of my many friends who like me will never have children and for whom the memories of Mother’s day are not necessarily happy. I think too of those who have never known their birth mothers and who still struggle with issues of abandonment. Being separated from our mothers leaves wounds from which I don’t think we ever fully heal.
Fortunately my thoughts do not stop there. There are many for whom I have played a mothering role. Even my little brother called me yesterday acknowledging that I am his surrogate mother for this season. There are others that I have mentored through hard times. And still others whose lives I have nurtured as I worked in the refugee camps in Thailand and handed out medicines in Africa.
Lastly I am remembering those who have mothered me in the past especially Nan Cowie and Margaret Murray in New Zealand and Nettie Burge on the ship. All of us need mothering, no matter what our age and stage in life and God so often provides even when our own mothers are far away.
So this Mother’s day whether you celebrate with Mum or apart from her, take time to remember. Celebrate the joy of who she and at the same time celebrate your own mothering (or fathering) role. These kinds or relationships are central to our faith and to our lives.