Saturday, May 13, 2017

When You Don't Have Your Mother.

It was very hard to say goodbye to my father when he passed away sixteen years ago. People told me that when your second parent dies it's even more difficult. I heard that piece of information but tried not to think about it. 

Once my mother took her last breath, I knew what they meant. "You feel like an orphan", some people say.  You can't really prepare for that feeling, even though people tried to tell me how it feels.

Celebrating my 16th birthday with my mother.
Unlike my father's death (which happened rather suddenly) there didn't seem to be one specific day when I said goodbye to my mother. In fact, every time I left her little room in the nursing facility, I felt like I was saying goodbye. I cried almost every time we parted. I knew the day was coming and I absolutely dreaded it.

Whether you've lost your mother physically or emotionally, (there are some who have a tumultuous relationship and feel "motherless"), Mother's Day can be a challenge. I passed by a rack of Mother's Day cards in the store this week and I could feel that lump in my throat and concrete block on my heart. 

But if there's anything I've learned from the many different deaths our family has experienced, it's that the sooner you can appreciate who you DO have left, the sooner you can heal from grief, and it's no different when it comes to your mother.

By definition, a mother is someone who gives birth to a child; to be or act as a mother to someone or to care for or protect someone like a mother. This means that any woman, whether younger or older, can actually be like a mother to you.  Look around you. 

I am thinking of a speaker and author, living in Florida, who has become like a mother to me in my ministry. I can talk to her about things that others would never understand because of the road she's traveled. She's given me wonderful advice for my own ministry. She's helped me understand what having a career in music and/or speaking ministry can do to your "normal" life and how to navigate. I always come home wanting to be more like her.

I am thinking of another woman, living in Texas, also a speaker and author, who became like a mother to me when my own mother was aging and starting to not be herself. I met Carole when I was beginning to feel the strains of caring for an aging parent and all the emotional upheaval that brings. Her words of encouragement were soothing to my tired soul.

Carole is no spring chicken herself and though she lost her mother and recently became a widow, she still travels, speaks, writes AND models caring for your body by keeping a regimented work-out schedule. What an example! She has been an inspiration to me and I come home wanting to be more like her.

There's another woman, living in Nashville, who is not an author or speaker, at least you won't find a 'book' in print, but she is writing a life that's worth studying.  She prepares the most delightful meals, keeps an immaculate home and models the beauty of a home-maker and wife, warming my soul with her example every time I'm there.

She loves spending time being a grandmother to her grandchildren and I often see her reading books, watching a movie or playing a board game with them. She reminds me that above and beyond my call to ministry, being a wife and home-maker is still at the top of the list of what women can offer their families. I always come home wanting to be more like her.

Sarah is younger than me, has three delightful children (at least when I'm there, ha!), serves as a Pastor's wife, runs a restaurant....and oh yeah, is helping her husband renovate the three story apartment building they live in. When I'm with her, I adore the way she mothers her children and models frugality and creativity. She inspires me with her calm spirit - which seems to be able to manage a hundred things at once. I always want to be more like her when I get home.

I could keep raving about the other "mothers" in my life, because I am blessed with a lot of women friends in my life who inspire me, but I'm sure you get the point. They come in the form of sisters, aunts, nieces, friends, cousins, employers, teachers, etc.

This Mother's Day, if you don't have a mother, this could be a day you'd rather skip over. I get it! But there are plenty of other women to celebrate; women who nurture our souls, our careers, our lives. In their own way, they contribute to our growth and vibrancy.

As you stop to remember the one who gave birth to you physically, celebrate the mothers around you who have helped to give birth to your soul - the ones who make you want to "be more like them when you get home".  Perhaps you could let them know how much they have impacted you.

You could even take this one step further and ask, how can I be a "mother" to someone else in my life? Each of us have plenty to share with others and we too can nurture the soul of other women. 

There are so many 'mothers' to celebrate this Mother's Day - even when you don't have your mother.