As a child, growing up in Brazil, I remember Mother’s day being a very sad holiday for me. My mom passed away when I was 3 and I was raised by my aunt, who never made an effort to be loving – maybe she couldn’t, who knows what traumas she was dealing with.
Back then, at school, the Friday before Mother’s day, there used to be a party to which all mothers were invited: the kids would sing songs honoring their moms, and offer hand-made gifts. My aunt never went to one of those, she didn’t think it was important. And I remember crying every single time, I could feel my little heart shrinking a few inches by seeing all those moms there, while I sang the well rehearsed songs alone. And I still get emotional on Mother’s day celebrations. Just last week, my niece posted a video of her daughter’s Mother’s Day party and that brought back memories.
Fast forward several years, and here I am. I made the decision not to have kids. Therefor, I don’t have a mother and I am not a mother. What’s to celebrate? Well… a lot, in fact!
To me, being a mother is about loving and nurturing. And that I can do effortlessly! There are different ways of being a mother. For example, I come from a very tight knit family. All my sisters (and brother) have kids. And we often step in for one another, being mothers to each other’s kids at different times, in different ways.
My nieces and nephews often reach out to me for guidance or simply for support or a word of encouragement. I relish in their accomplishments, worry about them, root for them and support them in any way I can, even from the distance.
Yesterday, my dear friend Sandy sent me this beautiful essay, which starts like this: “Those of us who are truly lucky have more than one mother. They are the cool aunts, the elderly ladies, the family friends, even the mentors who whip us into shape.” You can read it in full here. I like to think that I am the cool aunt!
Then, there’s the fur babies. I have 3 cats, and they are my little loves. They are funny, interesting, challenging, loving and full of personality. Those of you who take my classes often have “met” Gracie, my youngest, who likes to “participate”, by climbing on me while I am trying to teach. Each day with my fur babies softens and opens my heart a little bit more. They show me a depth of love I didn’t know existed.
Being a mother can also mean birthing something other than a human being. A project, an idea, a community. Studio 108 is also my baby and I am proud of the community I birthed. I feel responsible for everyone’s wellbeing and comfort, and I am always encouraging growth, nurturing our community each day.
So, whether you birthed a human baby or not, I hope you had a beautiful mother’s day. And even if your biological mom is no longer around, or you have a difficult relationship with her, think of all the other mothers in your life, the cool aunts, the mentors, the friends who love you but don’t think twice before kicking your butt, if that’s what you need. Like a good mother would do!
Love exists in a lot of different shapes and forms, and all are valid.