The past couple of Mother’s Days, I’ve written about what an incredible privilege it is to have a mom who loves me so much (read those posts here: https://wanderingintrovert.com/2015/05/10/lets-hear-it-for-the-moms/ and here: https://wanderingintrovert.com/2016/05/08/mothers-day-flowers/). It’s purely by chance that I wound up with my mom, and yet I know that her love has given me an advantage in my life that others may not have.
It is also because of the awareness of her influence that today is surprisingly hard in a different way.
I imagine that seeing your own children as good parents must be one of the most rewarding things a mother can experience; I think that must be true for my mom, as she watches her daughter – my sister – mother her son with this innate knowledge, confidence, and patience. The love that flows between my sister and nephew is such a beautiful thing to see.
I’d like to share that with my mother, too. When I was a little girl, I had three things I wanted to grow up to be: a mom, a writer, and a veterinarian. I scratched the last one when I realized that I would sometimes have to put animals to sleep, and allowed that goal to morph into the hope that someday I would help other people.
Since that point, those three goals have been pretty steady in my life: I’ve never wavered from wanting to write, and I’ve never wavered from wanting to be a mom.
As I’ve continued to wish for and work towards both of those things, I’ve centered on trying to make other people’s lives better. As a counselor, and in my everyday life, I try to encounter people with empathy for who they are and the challenges they face, even when I don’t know them.
There is no doubt that, in this way, my mother has affected me, as I’ve seen her do the same for people throughout my life, showing genuine concern for their well-being and investing in ways that can positively affect others. Whether through her work as a teacher, her commitment to her friends, or her awareness of global issues that impact people she may never meet, she’s a role model for me.
So I am keenly aware of the fact that I have an opportunity to help in a unique way, whether that’s when I’m working with someone, when I meet someone briefly, or when I try to make sure my friends’ children know that I’m here for them, always.
At times, though, I feel like I haven’t achieved something I was meant to do.
Over the years, as I’ve cheered on my friends who have undertaken the monumental task of parenting, and as I’ve been amazed by their strength, wisdom, and resiliency, I’ve felt a growing awareness of this way in which I feel like I am less than them. That’s painful to admit, but true: I stand in awe of them, and – in this way – cannot stand in awe of myself. (As a feminist, I need to say, too: this is not because I am a woman; it’s because I happen to be a woman who has wanted to raise a child.)
This Mother’s Day, I long for the opportunity to have my own child. Yet, ever more aware of my age, I increasingly feel a pull towards figuring out how to define my life in a way that doesn’t feel compromised if I never have that chance. My answer so far has been to care as much as I can about the people around me, whether I know them as family, friends, acquaintances, or colleagues, and to throw myself into my work. I believe writing and publishing needs to be a larger part of the equation for me, too.
I know my mother is already proud of me. And because she taught me to go after my dreams, I’ll continue to do that, all the while looking towards the ways I can integrate the strength, grace, resiliency, and optimism she has modeled.
I know – today and always – that I am one of the truly lucky ones. Regardless of whether or not I’m ever a mother, I know firsthand the value of unconditional parental love, and it continues to influence me, every moment of every day of my life.
If you are a mother, I hope today you feel the love you have given mirrored back to you. And if you are not, by choice or by circumstance, I hope for you the exact same thing: that the love you have offered others comes right back to you, in abundance. This Mother’s Day, I celebrate my beloved mom, and look towards my own future, daring to hope for the things I most want in the world. I am anxious about what it means if they enter my life, anxious about what it means if they don’t, and determined to celebrate whatever comes my way.