“Motherhood becomes a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s plans, a consecration of devotion to the uprearing and fostering, the nurturing in body, mind, and spirit... Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.”
Year after year, on the second Sunday of May, we are inundated with these quotes, poems, and stories of motherhood. Of the perfect mothers with magazine page living rooms, gourmet meals, perfect children, and nary a hair out of place.
Year after year, I have watched real mothers listen to those stories and think "well I'm a pathetic failure then. My kids pick their noses, my hair is frizzy, I hate being pregnant, I can't make a chocolate torte, and Mt Laundry is in direct competition with Everest for tallest mountain on earth."
I have also watched women with infertility who listen to those stories and bawl for the rest of the day because they have neither perfect children nor imperfect ones.
On my first Mother's Day as a married woman, I was still recovering from a difficult late-term miscarriage, and I was definitely not uplifted, comforted, or encouraged by anything I heard about mothers that year.
So here's to all the mothers who aren't June Cleaver.
To all the women who would like to be mothers but don't or can't have children.
To all the women (whether they have kids or not) who reach out into their communities and mother those around them, by being Big Sisters, doulas, midwives, teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends.
The poem says that "the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world," but here is to all the women who have never (and possibly will never) rock a cradle, but who are ruling the world all the same, by getting out and doing good in the world.
Motherhood is broader than biology.
May we never forget it.