An Editorial About Mothers

Mother’s Day may be the most universal holiday we celebrate as a human family. Nearly 200 of the world’s nations celebrate it, most in May.

I remember making crepe and construction paper cards for my mother, with “I love you” scrawled in crayon. I remember learning songs in church and singing them in front of the congregation to charmed titters. I remember Mother’s Day drives to visit my grandmother–the only grandparent I ever had. I remember the first time I celebrated Mother’s Day as a mother, with my adoring husband and gangly 3-month-old daughter. My husband still adores me (and I adore him), and my daughter, at 27, is still gangly.

Some say that motherhood is the ultimate expression of what it is to be a woman.

In many ways, as a mother, I agree.

But the idea of motherhood is so much more than the physical creation of a child within a woman’s body.

Sheri L. Dew, an American author and publishing executive, never married and never had children of her own. But she once said, “Few of us will reach our potential without the nurturing of both the mother who bore us and the mothers who bear with us.”

We owe who we are to both kinds of mothers, I think. First, to the woman who gave us life. She is essential to our very existence. Human beings cannot (yet) be grown in plexiglass tanks. Second, to the woman (or women) who shaped the person we became through her teaching and influence. Most of the time the mother who bears us and the mother who bears with us are one and the same. But Ms. Dew identifies ‘mothers’ who bear with us. Plural.

A mother is any woman who nurtures a child. She can be a teacher, a neighbor, a sitter, an aunt, a grandparent, a cousin. She is loving and compassionate. She is tender and welcoming. She expects greatness from us, but loves us if we’re ordinary. She is the woman who understands the implications of the profound lines penned by American Poet, W. R Wallace: “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

This month’s stories all involve mothers of one sort or another, grappling with the challenges of life in ways that only a mother—a woman—can; with love, compassion, loyalty, patience, intuition, tolerance, kindness, and gratitude.

Happy Mother’s Day!