I wrote this a few years ago but I would like to share it again.
This is a very personal piece for me and it remains as true today for me as it was the day I first wrote it.
Whether you mother children of your flesh or children of your heart; whether you have children you call your own, or children of other mothers’ call you their own, may you be blessed this day and may you be honoured. Your love is not wasted and it is not forgotten. It goes out like spring rain and bears its fruit in season.
In the small part of this great Story in which we all live,
my story has been profoundly impacted by the lives of two women
who never met but fiercely and faithfully loved the same child.
Neither of them were perfect and both of them are extraordinary.
I am the product of their sacrifices, their courage, their faith
and their beauty.
One mother, my birth mother Patricia, my first Mama, gave me her fierce, bone and blood deep love of language. In the midst of our poverty and her despair she taught me to read, to love poetry and strong tales of valour, and the love of writing. She taught me to look out the great window of literature onto the larger world that reading offers the imaginative mind. She taught me to seek Beauty and to cultivate it even if the makings were sparse. She taught me to love and honour the land; to care for living things; to laugh as a weapon against heartache; and to celebrate each season with furious attention, and to light a candle against the darkness. She taught me that I am beloved. Her love kept me from death. Everything wild and good in me began with her. She was the sun and moon and stars to me when she lived. I was twelve when she was killed, and in some deeply elemental way, for me the sun and moon and stars died with her. Other stars have risen in my skies, another beautiful moon came to fill that space, and a greater sun rose but not the same ones as I began with. That has never changed. Only now in my later years am I really able to look at her sacrifices and struggle and begin to comprehend how much she fought to give me out of her own poverty. I bow my head at such bravery. And weep for shame at how much I judged her failures. So much shadow consumed me after she died. For a child, death and neglect are difficult to understand. Or forgive.
Later, with astonishing mercy and tenderness, God gave me a second mother and put me in a new family. I loved Suzanne the second I looked at her and still remember that moment vividly. To this day my second Mama represents the absolute wonder of God’s grace and proof of His Goodness and His power. She took in another woman’s child and took up the role of mother that had been left by another – a child profoundly damaged, gangling, full of shadows and nightmares and hunger. She took on all the heartache that came packaged in me both within and beyond my control. I was fifteen when my “foster” parents took me in. “Foster” seems like a ridiculously poor term for the love that I received from them. In truth they became more like blood parents than I could have believed possible. And I am the product of a powerful, overcoming-all-odds-kind of Love that saved me in literally every kind of way.
My second Mama is still my “Mama”. At this writing I am nearly 58 years old and she still makes me feel like a little girl when I see her. She makes age and weariness and struggle fade nearly as soon as I see her face and hear her voice. She makes me remember what is to be young and to be someone’s darling. I am hers. And she is mine. While I learned fierce love from my first Mama, I learned long-suffering love from my second one. She took a broken 15 year old child instead of welcoming a younger, less damaged one, who might have had the chance of turning out better, and took the long walk of faith to stand by me out of trust in the Lord and obedience. Suzanne taught me by incarnation what it is to love well without ceasing. She taught me what grace looks like, what elegance truly is, and what virtue produces. She taught me how to set a beautiful table, how to serve a gracious meal, how to endure disappointment, how to wait for God to work and to pray while He does. She taught me the beauty of kindness and the power of truth. She is my model, my mother, and my standard. Of all the things that I am most deeply grateful for from her, it is for her love that I am most in debt. All mistakes and failures made as parents are washed away in the face of simple, enduring love and the gift of that amazing grace.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama!
Thank you for making me your own little twinkle.
I love you so and rise up to call you blessed!
The image of the deep red roses and the single white is titled “Braveheart and Cream Abundance”.
I grew them in my own garden and together they remind me of my beautiful mothers.
Image copyright Lancia E. Smith Photography