On Mother's Day, I find myself not thinking so much about my role as a mother for, truthfully, that occupies my thoughts every other day of the year. Instead, I tend to think about the other mothers in my life, for I have many. My own mom has been gone for over five years, but there are many other mothers and mother-figures who inspire me, encourage me, love me, support me and share with me their sage advice and wisdom. These are the moms who I am thinking about this Mother's Day.
First, there is my stepmother, Bernice, who has been a part of my life and my family's life for nearly 30 years. Bernice has been one of my biggest rooters in my blogging journey. She is my children's "Safta," and they love her dearly. She has been suffering some lately, having been forced into early retirement by the recession, and I am feeling sad for and worried about her. So here's a little story that I hope will cheer her up.
Bernice, when I told my daughter/your granddaughter today that you were no longer working and that you were trying to figure out what to do next, she brightly piped up, "Safta should come live with us!" We would welcome it, anytime.
I send Bernice love and tulips and Godiva chocolate and hopes for a better year.
My mother-in-law, Sherri, is the next mother on my list. Sherri's past has taught me a great deal about my own history - she, like my own mother, lost her mother when she was very young (she was seven months old and never knew her mother.) But Sherri has always taken life by the collar and dedicated herself to living a life that is filled with love, heart, truth and art.
Sherri is a masterful painter, a vocation she didn't take on until midlife. She is my inspiration for finding my own art in middle age. She too, supports my writing by sharing it with others and always telling me how much she loves it. We have recently been spending more time talking, just the two of us, and these conversations always fill me up. I am deeply grateful to Sherri for raising a kind, gentle, intelligent, moral son, one who is a wonderful husband and father.
I send Sherri poetry and sunshine and improving health for Larry, my father-in-law, in the coming months so that they can continue to climb mountains together.
Next in line is my sister. Big sisters (that's me) are supposed to be mother-like to their little sisters, if they are lucky enough (as I am) to like and love their sisters. But in our case, losing our mother leveled the playing field, and we now take care of each other equally. My sister is a wonderful support, an incredible mother, and has a wicked sense of humor that always keeps me laughing. Sis, I am sending you a perpetual plane ticket so that we can be together more often.
Then there are the girlfriends. The really, really close ones. The ones who have taken care of me through thick and thin and over years, especially when I really needed some mothering. I wrote about these close friends not long ago, and so I won't intone their names again. But you know who you are. You are getting my tears, as you usually do.
Then there are, of course, the mom friends. The girlfriends with whom I am raising my children. We are the village that is always invoked when talking about what it takes to raise children in a crazy, disconnected world. Many of these friends are members of my incredible synagogue. Many live in my neighborhood, are on my corner, across the street, live next door. These are the moms on whom I rely for carpools, camp schedules, notes from missed PTA meetings, after school coverage when I am running late to the bus stop (again,) advice on how to cook chicken, where to buy the best priced organic milk, how do I begin the conversation about training bras, and the answer to the most critical of questions: are my children really, truly doing ok even though sometimes I feel like I am missing the mark and can't quite do it as well as the other moms? They always reassure.
For these moms, I am sending you each a mani/pedi and the morning off.
Now come the moms from whom I have so much to learn. These are friends and acquaintances who have been dealing with critical health crises in their families, and have been doing so with grace under pressure like it's no one's business. Just by chance, for many of these families I know, it has been brain tumors that are affecting and have affected their loved ones. For some it's breast cancer. Whatever challenge has been stamped on their lives, I stand in awe of how these moms take care of their children, their husbands, their partners, all the myriad needs of their families, and still have time to write, to run, to walk, to plarn (ask me about it) and simply to live.
To these mothers, I send a chocolate heart and a notepad so that in your spare time you can write down how you do it and the rest of us can learn a bit about compassionate caring and living a life in the face of incredible odds.
Next come the friends to whom I refer as my beacons. These are the older women in my life, the ones who have already raised their children and are exploring mid- and later-life with gusto and a new-found freedom. They show me how it's gonna be, and act as my crystal ball into the future. They assure me that I am worrying about all the right things, and in the end, the worrying is meaningless, because it's all going to work out. And even if it doesn't, I will hopefully have the good fortune to have the health, time and space to continue living my life to its fullest for many years to come.
I send these moms hiking shoes and compasses to lead them into their next adventures.
Finally, there is my own mother. She and I had a difficult, complicated, loving relationship. I am most grateful for our final nine years together, during which time she became a grandmother to five beautiful grandchildren. She was a wonderful grandmother, and this role brought out the very best in her.
To my mom, the inimitable Alice, I send you all the love I wish I had offered more easily and readily when you were here. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.