Sunday, May 10, 2009


THIS YEAR IT occurs to me that although I was blessed with a high concentration of motherly love over the years - something that continues even now - it comes from more than one source. I tend to already consider myself an amalgamation of the best parts of the best people who have entered my life, but it's worth noting that there are people who have contributed to certain areas in specific ways.

I'm talking about the people who have nurtured me and taught me the best ways to nurture others.

My mother is an old school mom, and those of you who have met her know this to be true. She is the youngest of nine children, and her nickname was "Baby." She comes from a day and age when women wore dresses everywhere and married early and embraced a role as homemaker without hesitation. But she was also a pioneer in that she was renowned in her family for being very well educated and getting good jobs at local colleges and buying a home when she was still in her twenties. She was at once traditional and progressive.

She was and is musically talented. She began playing the church piano at such a young age, family referred to her as having "the Gift." And everyone loved her. It's pretty common knowledge that amongst her nieces and nephews, Aunt Bessie was their favorite aunt.

My mom has been many things to many people: daughter, sister, aunt, wife, lover, Minister of Music, friend, and more. But if you asked her, she'd say the most important role she's ever filled is that of mother. And she certainly gave it everything she had, plus some. In reflection, I'm often astounded at the lengths she went to in order to provide for her family.

She's a great mother. But she didn't raise me alone.

Part of becoming an adult is recognizing the humanity of the people in your life, including their shortcomings. My mother was not perfect by any means. She made mistakes and miscalculations in judgment like any other person. It could even be said some of the qualities that made her such a wonderful, beloved person also led her to make some spectacularly bad decisions over the years.

When I think of these areas where I might now be missing critical knowledge of how to deal with the world - and myself - because it wasn't available from her, that's when I become grateful for the other mothers in my life. The ones who filled in the gaps. The ones who nurtured me without even realizing they were doing so.

I have a lot of mothers.

So THANK YOU to all the mothers in my life. Those of you with both literal and figurative children, who contribute regularly towards making those around you better people. THANK YOU.

There are so many specific people I want to pay tribute to right now, I think my fingers would bleed to the bone before I could finish typing it all. I don't want to sound facetious, but honestly: you all leave your mark on me all the time. I see your hard work. It doesn't escape me; it never has.

I don't know if I'll ever be a parent myself, but if that should happen, the combined lessons of caring and selflessness and patience that I've received will be passed on. In the meantime, it's my goal to nurture my family and friends with the same dedication I've received.

To the mothers (and fathers doing the work of mothers!) I know, and to all the women and men who've allowed me to live in their village while the job of raising me continues...

...Happy Mother's Day!

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