May 8, 2005
Mother's Day Musings
The following is a personal musing on the institute of motherhood.  Many of you receiving this
email will recognize yourselves in my rantings.  It has weighed heavy on my heart, that I'm not
supposed to celebrate you as mothers to my children.  Yes, I own the birth stories...but you've
loved them too...and I'm very willing to share the title.  In addition, many of you have been kind
enough to mother me, when I've been in dire need of the boost.  To all of you, I
say..
.Happy Mother's Day.   You've meant the world to me...

-Alicia

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As Mother's Day has once again come and gone...I've found myself a bit at odds with society
over the meaning of the day.  

I am, by any definition of the word, a mother.  Three times over I've been blessed to add a new
person to our family roster.  I have three beautiful girls, whom I love "up to the moon and
back".  As the original receivers of this email know, I can't quite say I have 3 healthy
children...since my youngest has leukemia.  What I can say, is that I'm the luckiest Mom alive,
because I get to share my life with these three little people.

As an official "Mom" by most people's accounts...I feel qualified to take shots at that particular
job title.  I'm a large woman, so I feel free to comment on matters associated with large people.
 I'm graying, wrinkled, freckled, near-sighted, and college educated.  As such, I have a certain
freedom to comment on anything relating to those maladies because frankly, been
there...done that.  Therefore, I take my position as a dictionary described "mother" as a
platform to be able to discuss the ins and outs of this particular job description.  To the purists
in the audience, you may as well hit "delete" now...I'm probably going to irritate you.

I have enormous issue with people limiting Mother's Day solely to women who have given birth
or shared a permanent residence with a child.  For clarification, I'm well aware everyone
automatically includes adoptive moms, stepmoms, and grandmothers in Mother's Day revelry.  
Duh.  The women I'm about to expound on don't fit quite so neatly into one of the typically
accepted "Mom" categories.  

Like most of you, I've received the mushy Ode to Mom email that salutes working moms,
stay-at-home moms, birth moms, have-a-teenager-nervous-wreck moms, stinky baby moms
and over-the-hill-waiting-for-grandkid moms.  Yeah, yeah...it says lots of lovely things...many
of which I whole-heartedly agree with.  What it leaves out, is the topic of discussion in this
forum.

If we don't limit the word "mother" to strictly mean a woman who has given birth, then we
automatically embrace the idea that a woman who cares for, loves, and nurtures a child - is a
mother.  I argue that conversely, just because a woman has given birth...doesn't mean she
should automatically qualify for the exhaulted term of mother.  

A mother is the embodiment of love.  She gives of her heart and her soul with no thought for
herself...only for the well-being of the child she is entrusted with.  Mothers see the world
through the eyes of their children.  Mothers fight wars and rage against wars because of their
search to improve the world for their children.  Mothers cry for the children of the
world...because every child is yours once you love one child.  Mothers love when its difficult to,
and love even more when they know its going to hurt...but they don't care.  A mother is a
caring, giving, healing, nurturing, selfless woman who puts her child's needs above her own.

Some of the best mothers I've ever met, have no children of their own.  

Aunts whose hearts are owned entirely by nieces aren't just aunts...they're moms.  If aunts
care enough to enforce rules, cheer victories, cry for heartache, and celebrate
milestones...they're not just aunts- they're moms.  They deserve the recognition.  They
deserve the yearly pat on the back.  If they've suffered the heartbreaks and embraced the
joys of a child's life, all while placing that child's needs paramount to their own
interests...they're "moms", damn it.  Celebrate them!

Nurses whose hearts are so open that they embrace and envelop their charges...aren't just
nurses, they're moms.  These women physically care for the children, and the good ones, care
for their souls as well.   Heme-Onc nurses care for children they'll lose.  They give their hearts
to children that will leave and go on to live healthy lives, and equally to those who won't.  They
give of themselves knowing the awful price they'll pay for it, and they never think twice.  

Nurses who immunize screaming babies, or dress wounds on sobbing toddlers,  all love the
children enough to look past the short term suffering - toward the goal of future health.  NICU
nurses who tend to the smallest of humanity, tenderly love their tiny bundles.  Is a nurse
whose heart has been shared with hundreds of children any less of a mother because she
never shared her home with a child?   NO!  Nurses give of themselves in the exact selfless
manner that a true mother should...with their hearts open and their  minds wrapped around
the well-being of the child.  They are "mothers" in the best sense of the word...Celebrate them!

And teachers, what about the oft-maligned teachers?  These women mold our children, they
help make them into the productive adults we all hope for.  Teachers are moral compasses,
leaders, and visionaries.  They see children as potentiality and fragility all in one beautiful
package.  A good teacher guides, follows, encourages and refrains...all in a moment of time.  
They hold a child's future, but embrace that child's present.  If they have no more of
themselves to give to a child of their own, we should revere them for being selfless enough to
share of themselves with the children they steward.  They "mother" in the absence of
others...and deserve recognition for it.  Celebrate them!

Then there are friends.  Friends who take your children in at a moment's notice.  Friends who
rescue you or your children without a second thought.  Friends who are as quick to cry with
you as they are to laugh with you.  Some special friends mother you as well as your
children...and who can't use a little "mothering" as an adult?  Friends may be single, married,
childless, or child-abundant...but any of them qualify as "mothers" if they love you and your
children enough to face the realities of life square on with you.  A friend who steps up, rather
than out, is as necessary and supportive as any mother...they're just not often recognized for
it.  Celebrate them!

I could go on ad infinitum...but I won't.  My point is that Mother's Day leaves out some of the
best Mothers on earth, simply because they don't live with their "children".  Worse, it often
celebrates women merely on the basis of their reproductive successes, rather than their moral
ones.  A mother who abandons her child physically or mentally - should lose the privilage of
the term.  Unfortunately, Webster rules, like it or not.  

So, while I may not be able to effectively change the course of the English language...I hope
that I've made you stop and think.  The course of your life was altered by more than one
mother...and you are all the better for it.  Take a moment to tell one of your moms how much
you appreciate the sacrifices of time, energy, and spirit they made on your behalf.  If a women
has been generous enough to embrace you as her child, or your child as her own...regardless
of birthright...tell her Happy Mother's Day.  She'll finally know that you felt the full bounty of her
love for you and your family.  

Young, old, new at their jobs, or wisened by experience...each woman who has graced your
life with her "mothering" heart...deserves a Mother's Day hug.  She loved you when you
needed her...Celebrate her!
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