08 Apr A different kind of Mother’s Day BY KARRIE HAHN

Mother’s Day is swiftly approaching. The “Mother’s Day” card section is filled with people searching for just the right card. Flowers are on display. And there’s a sharp rise in restaurant reservations, if you dare to face the crowds! But before we settle into old and familiar routines, I have a suggestion for your seasonal celebration. This Mother’s Day, choose to recognize and celebrate the many different “mothers” in your life.

 

The primary example in my life is my biological mother. This is the woman who nurtured, cared for, and protected me as a fragile and helpless baby. And as infancy progressed to childhood, and childhood to adulthood, it’s interesting and a bit surprising to consider what I remember most.

 

I remember Mom as the driving force in family traditions. Were any of these traditions expensive and elaborate? Certainly not. This was well before the days of Pinterest,  Facebook, and every thing else tempting today’s mother to think that Instagram-perfect photos and professional planning are required to make something meaningful and “successful.” Most of the memories aren’t of earth-shattering moments…just the stuff of everyday life.

 

It was making me and my sister a priority, rather than pursuing her own dreams and desires. As I went off to college, it was working a miserable job to help pay for my education. And as an adult whose life has been unexpectedly turned upside down by mystery illness, it’s doing tons of medical research for me, helping pay for doctors, and being there when the pain in my head makes me cry for hours or my body has no energy to move. I thank God for my mother. She is irreplaceable.

 

But while she’s the primary example of a mother to me, there are other women who mothered me in different ways. When I was in grad school in California, Helen, a work colleague, was always there to help me in issues small or large. After foolishly getting myself into a bad rental situation, she and her husband drove me an hour away to Pasadena, helping me get out of the lease.

 

I think of Betty, who mentored me in my role as a college administrator, and has been a faithful presence and support through the past four difficult years. Though she never married or had any children of her own, she’s been a spiritual “mother” to hundreds of college women.

 

I think of Cheri, my new friend here in Texas, who shares tips for making a good chicken broth or mends things I have no idea how to fix.

 

These are a few examples, but there are many more. Many of these women are married with their own children. Some are single women who never married or had children. But that’s precisely my point—motherhood can be much more than simple biology. In a sense, all women who nurture other human lives are mothers. They may not have physically produced another human being, but they have powerfully and lovingly shaped our personalities, abilities, characters, and lives.

 

So this Mother’s Day, my appeal is this: widen the circle of your traditional celebration. Honor the woman who raised you, but also honor the women who shaped you. Let them know how much they’ve impacted you. And to all the women out there—married, single, with children, or without children—think about how you can be a nurturer of life to those around you. Regardless of how many lives you bring into the world, you are unlimited in how many lives you can impact.