I think the defining characteristic that makes someone a mother isn’t just having birthed a child. It is a bond, a love, something so deep it is incomprehensible. It is a caring of and devotion to another human being, it is a giving of oneself to another. It is love.
Mama. Maybe you are one, or want to be one. Maybe you aren’t one and never want to be. But, we all have one.
Sometimes a mother is adopted, sometimes a mother is also a father, sometimes a father is a mother.
We each have a unique bond with our mother that is wholly our own. It is a complex, often difficult to understand relationship that lasts our whole lives, even when our mother isn’t present. Because she is and will always be present within us.
I don’t think it’s possible to define a mother by any one word, except perhaps the word love. Because that is the intangible form that a mother represents. Being love. Giving love. In all its complicated ways.
I want to share an excerpt of a poem from the book The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. This book was a gift to me, from a very dear friend, when I had my daughter.
Even if you do not entirely agree with what this poem is saying, I hope you will see the beauty of these words. For I believe they are about letting go of the placing of oneself upon another, but rather to give of love freely and without bounds.
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
Photo- My mother holding me as an infant, walking through the golden waters with our trusty dog. Circa 1985.
I love you mom.