A month ago I wrote an essay for NieNie’s ‘Motherhood Is’ contest. I didn’t win. I didn’t even get printed. But it was very therapeutic for me to write my essay and work through some of my thoughts and emotions. Here is my essay. Happy Mother’s Day.
Motherhood Is . . .
One spring day when I was eleven, I came upstairs and found my mother sobbing quietly on her bed. I asked her what was wrong. As she rocked gently her teary reply came, “It just hurts so much.” It scared me. I didn’t know what to do to help her, so I went in my room, got down on my knees near my bed and uttered the first urgent and sincere prayer I can ever remember saying.
Eleven years later, I donned white from head to toe. The wedding photographer was capturing moments with smiling families of both bride and groom. At one point, he approached my mother and me for a photo. I can distinctly remember my mother looking at me and lifting her hand to adjust my veil. Tears suddenly filled her eyes. Caught by surprise at the sentimentality of the moment, I too became weepy, but can remember thinking, “She isn’t crying for me.”
Individually, these memories have lodged themselves in the different nooks and crannies of my brain where such things go, to be remembered or forgotten, depending on the day. On the surface they are merely two different interactions I had with my mother. But recently they were stitched together to become a single fabric of thought in my mind about the true nature of motherhood.
It happened on a hot summer’s day four years ago when my mother said to me: “You have an older sister. I gave her up for adoption forty years ago. She has searched out and found our family and now she wants to meet you.”
In that instant I knew that motherhood is a painfully deep kind of love that cannot be broken. Mothers do not give their children away – whether they be eighteen and leaving the home, getting married and starting their own family, or adopted by another family to be raised. Instead, mothers love so genuinely and completely that they give away a piece of themselves to each child. That piece goes with them wherever they may be and connects mother and child indefinitely.
My memories confirmed it. All those years my mother still loved my sister. All those years their connection remained. And when I met my sister for the first time and saw the way my mother looked at her, I knew that love would always exist, no matter what.
Motherhood is love. It is complicated. It is beautiful. And it is forever.