I have a stepmother, an ex-stepmother, a mother-in-law and a mom. I also have dozens, if not millions of women, who have mothered me, guided me, mentored me and brought me up over the last 41 years. My friend's moms, my mom's friends, my aunts, my sponsors in about 27 different 12 step programs, therapists, OBGYNs, doctors, nurses, random, wise strangers on the street, teachers, professors, mentors, authors I have loved, and more.
The photo above was taken on Mother's Day 2003 and features all three sets of my amazing parents. I'd just had the third of six miscarriages and though I was happy to celebrate the day with my own mothers, I had no idea if I would ever become a mother myself. I had a beautiful baby boy delivered early by emergency cesarean section the following year, but at the time I had no idea whether or not that would ever happen for me.
Since this photo was taken, my mother-in-law has been widowed by cancer, my mother has been diagnosed with cancer and has since gone into remission. My stepmother is receiving chemo for cancer as we speak. All three of these women are super heroic and should probably be wearing more capes and super hero accessories than they currently do.
I think of the other women I know who have experienced the incomparable grief of loss and infertility. I think of the women I know who have lost their mothers to cancer or alcoholism or suicide or tragic accidents or the myriad other forms of death. My oldest friend's mother died almost 18 months ago and every time I think of her, l still can't believe she's gone.
I want to say I never take being a mother or having a mother for granted. I want to say I express regular gratitude to my mom for being a single mom raising me on food stamps, for showing me that women can be artists and own businesses, for seeing and loving every side of me, even the very worst. I want to say I reach out with tenderness and loving support to the women who have mothered me and the young people I have had a chance, in my own way, to mother. I want to say I know it takes, at the very least, a village to raise a person up into wholeness, to keep them connected and afloat in this world. Because in my case, that's been true.