May 10, 2009

Reflections on motherhood



     I lost my mother six and a half years ago. We had just reached a point where she would talk to me about happenings in the past, and we had had numerous conversations over the previous eighteen months. I grieved the loss of getting to know the woman who, I often say, taught me how not to live life. In spite of being a the matriarch of a typical dysfunctional family, she did some inspiring things—learned to drive in her sixties, graduated from college in Maine in her early seventies. She planned to attend seminary, but caretaking an ill husband tied her to the house. She took over the responsibility for the football-game sized husband, her being under five-foot five inches. So on this Mother’s Day, I will remember her for these things, and her sense of humor, rather than recalling all the negative parts of our mother-daughter relationship.

     I also remember the six generations of mothers who walked on this earth before my mother and I did. When my husband and I visited Munich, Germany, in October, 2000, I had the opportunity to visit one of the big European Catholic churches. While there, I lit seven candles, one for each of the seven maternal generations that contributed to who I am. The mother in the seventh generation should have prayed for me. I found it interesting that this mother (between the fourth and fifth generations there was a jump from maternal to paternal) is Mary Googins, one of the three main characters in the historical romance novel that I am writing. I am becoming a good friend of this mother for that reason.

     I ponder who the seventh generation mother is for whom I must pray. Unfortunately, we, as humans, do not live long enough to know more than three, or rarely four generations, of our descendants.

     This Mother’s Day I will consider birth mothers, the name for mothers who, due to their particular, unique, circumstances, chose (or were forced to choose) to let an adoptive or foster mother raise their children. There is a hole in the birth mother’s heart, formed when they separated from their child. Being an adoptive parent, I am grateful to the one birth mother with whose care I was entrusted. While foster parenting women who were unwed and chose adoption, I learned how difficult their decision often is, and how much they really do love the very child that they are releasing into another mother’s custody. Two of the four birth mother’s that my family fostered remain in touch with our family. They are hoping for a reunion one day.

     This Mother’s Day I will also remember the infertile women I’ve met. Having been there at one time (after adopting, I did have a miracle pregnancy), I know the pain that this day can bring. One friend of mine, in the same position, used her infertility to design weekend retreats on Mothers day, offering an opportunity for infertile women and couples to gather, away from the painful celebrations. This provided an opportunity for them to network with others in their position, a unique experience not found elsewhere in their communities.

     This week I spoke to two women who yearn for motherhood, but they are not married. This Mother’s Day I will be sensitive to these women who are grieving the passing of opportunity.

     Lastly, I will remember those mothers born in situations where they have few resources to support their children.

      Through it all, I will give thanks that I had the opportunity to be a mother, not only to an adopted daughter birth son, and an unofficially adopted daughter. I am also honored to have had hurting men and women choose to “adopt” me as a mother-substitute.

     As I end my reflection on mothers, I will return to the preparations for a Mother’s Day “brunch” with my daughter and granddaughter. Our three generations will rejoice in the knowledge that motherhood is a continuing relationship, no matter the age of the participants. And were it not for the mothers who preceded us, we would not be who we are. And that is a common point on which we can all celebrate this Mother’s Day.


for Birth Mother’s Day and Mother’s Day:

Dedicated to my mother


CANDIED VIOLETS: Remembering My Mother on Her Birthday




Online Sites for Caretakers & Families of Brain Injury Victims



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