Following a late lunch after church, I opened a beautiful card and a handmade gift for Mother’s Day. My husband sat across from me with our two little boys on either side. I was also conscious of those absent from our circle, the two who gave me my first mother’s days.
I remember the one when Jerry and I were engaged. The ladies were given a flower at church and I savored it till Sunday. When his son’s mother came to pick him up, I gave it to her. I think I did that the next year, too. Though we were married by then, I was uncertain in my new role as step-mom. Yet, every time that I stood to be recognized as a mother, I felt I was honoring this little boy I chose to claim as my own. I renewed my commitment to love him unconditionally and to raise him for God. Standing felt courageous because sometimes I didn’t feel regarded as a real mom, making it even harder to believe it myself.
Then there was the year of becoming pregnant and losing our first child together, just 8 weeks later. A lot of love had been poured out during that short time. That was February 2007. The pain was still fresh in May. Again I celebrated Mother’s Day precariously. Our loss still left me feeling less than a “real” mother. With all my heart, I knew a parent’s life began at their child’s conception. Still, I felt I had to convince others that she or he had existed…that I existed.
It was not until Mother’s Day 2009 with one babe-in-arms and another one on the way that I felt like a legitimate part of the mother’s club. Now, five years later, I sat in church as the boys played quietly beside us. There was no fanfare, except for the graduates being recognized, yet there is no longer any doubt. I am a mother. But the question remains: Of two? Or three? Or…?
One of the graduates brought their newborn to be dedicated to the Lord. They have a toddler at home. But they also very openly keep alive the memory of their first toddler. Their daughter was in Sabbath School with our youngest. I remember greeting the new family one Sabbath as she took a turn on the kiddie slide during the program. That afternoon they went to the park together as a family. Then, only hours later, they ended up in the Emergency Room and before morning their little girl died from complications of an unknown congenital problem. I struggled to look closer at the woman standing beside her husband and two children. Tears stung at both of their eyes; the perceptive pastor thoughtfully acknowledged ALL their children in the dedication speech.
Women become mothers many different ways. Upon becoming, neither life nor death, not marriage or divorce, not even past or present circumstances can dissolve this. Indeed, the permanence of eternal Love can be shown through us.
On this Mother’s Day, I stand before God to honor my four children. Each has borne His gifts to me. Their stories intertwine inextricably with mine, making my motherhood journey one that is authentic and full of joy.