Every May we celebrate Mother’s Day. We celebrate not only the lolas and nanays but womanhood in all its glory! I would like share with you some thoughts in my email this morning received from one of my friends about moms and womanhood, interspersed with my own thoughts.

What makes a good mother? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips for easy childbearing? A sexy body? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and help daughter with her school project, all at the same time? Is it the ability to soothe her husband’s business-related anxiety, comfort a heart-broken teenager, while making soup for the toddler who is in bed with a fever, all at the same time with a smile on her face?

Or is it in her heart? Is it the ache she feels when she watches her 7-yr-old baby disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time? The jolt that takes her from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 a.m. to calm a fretful crying baby? The panic, years later, that comes again at 2 a.m. when she just wants to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in her home?

The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts go out to the young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation … for mothers-to-be who are waiting to experience the pain and joy of giving birth to a new life … for mature mothers learning to let go … and for even more mature mothers, now lolas, who look forward to every visit from their apo.

We celebrate working mothers and stay-at-home mothers, single mothers, married mothers, and abandoned mothers, moms with money and moms who make do with what little they have. This day is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat, for those mothers whose heads turn automatically when a little voice calls “Mom?” in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home, or even away at college, or have their own families.

Some people try to separate womanhood from motherhood. But, I believe, at heart each woman is a mother. Even those women who are not married yet, who may choose to remain single … yet they are “mothers-at-heart” to their nieces, to the neighbor’s kids, even to those children who have been left orphaned. We are mothers when we smile at children we don’t know who are just passing by, when we take time to chat and interact with “children of all ages”, including those adults entering their second, or perhaps third, childhoods.

Mother’s Day is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war. It is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can’t find the words to reach them. And for all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed, praying for God-given patience, when their 14-yr-olds dye their hair green.

Mother’s Day is for all of us. In the end we can only do the best we can and trust God to do the best He can. We can tell them every day that we love them. And pray that we will never stop being a mother at heart. Because where would civilization be today without us mothers?

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