Despite having a son for two and a half years, it still catches me off guard when someone wishes me “Happy Mother’s Day.” Maybe it’s because until I had my son, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to be a mother. Or maybe it’s because since he’s so young I feel like I have not yet earned the right to be wished a happy Mother’s Day. Or maybe it’s just because I don’t feel like I measure up to the world’s ideal of a mother.
I looked up the definition of “mother” this morning to find everything from simply “a female parent” to “sometimes vulgar.” My favorite was “maternal tenderness or affection,” and I also noticed how the noun never defined mother as “giving birth.” This surprised me, but also made me a little glad. Sometimes I think we take everything in life too literal (which is why anyone who sees that I have a car seat wishes me a happy Mother’s Day.) There’s another day to celebrate giving birth: Labor Day.
When I think about a mother, I naturally think of my own mother and grandmothers. As an adult, I think of all the characteristics in them that shaped my life. I am thankful for many, and then I would do some things totally different. Beyond that, I think about my friend traveling halfway across the world with her husband and son to add one more son and complete their family. What a blessed Mother’s Day to adopt a child she has come to love for over two years now. Then I think of all the other women who have touched the lives of others with “maternal tenderness or affection.”
These are the women who have earned the title “Maw Maw,” “Granny” or “Aunt” by people of no relation. They make others feel like family and are a mother to many. Beyond being blessed with a Godly mother and Godly grandparents, I have had several other women in my life who have helped “mother” me in times when I needed another mother.
My earliest memories come from my great aunts. When I was a toddler I stayed with my Aunt Velma while my mom worked as a teacher. Some of my earliest memories are playing at her house. I feel this lady’s life calling was to mother. She has nine biological children, who of course produced many wonderful grandchildren and great-grands. Her late husband was my granny’s youngest brother. He also pastored a church, and together they created a Godly legacy for generations.
After I started school, our Aunt Bea (yes, we had a real Aunt Bea), stayed with my younger sister. I was there whenever my mom had a meeting or I was sick. My granny’s only sister, she was one of the most imaginative and funniest people I ever knew. She babysat my sister and cleaned our house up until she died suddenly when I was in the ninth grade. I miss her homemade chicken and dumplings, but I miss her even more.
At the end of my sophomore year in college, I had interviewed for several intern positions at a magazine company in Birmingham. I didn’t want to get a new apartment lease in case I would be moving to Birmingham in a few months. However, I had a long day of classes followed by an early morning of classes the next day. It would be a stretch to commute to Alabama from my hometown on that day. My Aunt Bonnie, another of my granny’s sisters-in-law, offered to let me stay free at her house every week that semester. Not only that, but she would often have delicious food cooked for me.
I guess you can say I have some pretty “great” great aunts. But other women of no blood relation whatsoever have helped mother me, too. In college, to say that Dr. Kimberly Bissell was my advisor is well understated. She helped me with big career decisions as well as personal and life dilemmas while sorting through my early 20s on campus.
After Dr. Bissell and after college, I started a job in Birmingham. That’s when a lady who at first intimidated me dearly turned out to become a close friend and confidant. Dr. Margie Williamson had written for Student Life for years. Then she was hired on as the Adult Life Bible Study senior editor, and as my direct boss. I learned quickly that she intimidated me because we were a lot alike: strong, hard-working, family-oriented, goal driven, perfectionist. She helped me with career decisions beyond that copy editing job as well as implanted many little life nuggets for a Godly family as I struggled through the first years of marriage and buying a home.
In between Student Life and now, I worked at The University of Alabama. I knew my end goal was to write my own material and work more on getting published. One day I mentioned to a friend and coworker of mine that I always regretted never getting into the script and screenplay writing class while in college. “Well, my ex-wife teaches that. I can get you in the class.” Wow. What a random turn of events.
Dr. Wendy Reed is someone who helped nurture my writing and encouraged me to follow my dreams in comedy writing. She is too young to be my mother, so I will call her a young aunt. But it goes without saying that taking her class was a great experience for me and proved just how hard, fun and rewarding writing screenplays can be.
I cannot end without mentioning a woman who has mothered so many in my home town. She is proof that one does not have to give birth or even officially adopt a child to be a mother. Mrs. Robin Clements is the epitome of kindergarten teachers. Anyone who attended Berry Elementary for two generations can attest to her caring nature. I am fortunate that she is also family of family, so that I still see her from time to time. This is the one woman I know who is always positive, thankful, and in a good mood.
So as you celebrate Mother’s Day, think of any woman who helped make you into the person you are today. Then give her a call or a visit. Or feel free to give her a shout out of love and appreciation by commenting on my blog.