Inspired by some awareness events for May; National Share-a-Story, National Mental Health and National Foster Care Month, I found a commonality within this pile of jumbled awareness points, like socks, also an awareness event (National Lost Sock Day, May 9). The lost to found connective points that unite the details of these awareness happenings as well as our present-day awareness event handler: Mother’s Day. To this point I decided to be led by the influence of powerful figures I’ve learned from in my life with the inclusion of Wonder Woman in continuing to tell this tale.
On February 13th, 2000 I became a mother to a beautiful baby boy whose eyes and lip shape mirrored my own. My own journey into motherhood is very different from the typical story in that my son whom I named Dimitri lived for less than five minutes. I held him as he held and gave his last breath. Over the many years since his death as he would have been 21 this year, I have learned many women have experienced this type of loss and when Mother’s Day comes around, they feel a specific type of pain. To some including myself for a while, I also felt a great deal of shame. Can I actually call myself a mother because I didn’t have the ability to raise this child? I’ve come to understand from the assistance of many superheroes in my own life, on my journey of healing, motherhood is a sacred and beautiful blessing that is traditional as well as has non-traditional counterpoints and components to it.
“If it means interfering in an ensconced, outdated system, to help just one woman, man or child…I’m willing to accept the consequences.”
—Wonder Woman #170
On my own healing journey, I’ve been delving into conventional terminology and deconstructing these terms for meaning beyond the surface. What is a mother? What is motherhood? These profound searches have broadened my understanding the story surrounding motherhood is anything but simple. Also, a deeper appreciation for languages, my outlook as a writer, a woman, my humanity and labeling as a mother as well as a deeper compassion for the varied ways motherhood is healthily practiced. This consideration has allowed me to appreciate the term motherhood can and often does look different depending on the vantage point, but different doesn’t have to mean deficit or derogatory. As a reminder of living in one of the largest single female raising children households’ cities in Massachusetts, the nurturing component among many women is a perceptible and an appreciative trait often associated among women. But all women aren’t necessarily nurturing. Because you can bear a child doesn’t make one a mother, just like all men who supply the seed doesn’t make them a father. I’ve met men who are quite nurturing and masculine so, is motherhood only relegated to the uterus and progeny purposed relation to a specific person?
In theory, “mother” and its modern variations are rooted in the baby talk pronunciations of “mama.” The word mother can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European (PIE). The actual word ‘mother’ comes from the Old English mōdor, of Germanic origin; related to the Dutch moeder and German Mutter. Fostering a connection with our previous ancestors, one of our earliest links with them may be our words for “mom.”
GatherandGrow.com describes mother as, “A mother is someone who nurtures – someone who cares for the deepest places of your heart.” It continues, “…a mother sees the deepest, truest you and treats you like you already are that person. A mother cares about your hurts and fears, but also your dreams and successes. She is a cheerleader, a coach, a trainer and a fan all at the same time.”
Continuing on my lexeme-led excursion into the word, motherhood, Merriam-Webster dictionary allowed me to encounter definitions that include: to give birth to and, to care for and protect; acting as or providing parental stock —used without reference to sex. Immediately these made sense to me. I have women, men and non-binary friends raising children on their own for a myriad of reasons. These friends’ raising children are needing to fulfill many parental roles, traditional and otherwise. They do so with relatives, friends, and community members, all who subscribe to the mission of loving and providing healthy spaces for their children in informed, safe, and healthy, albeit often colorful quirky ways.
“Because no matter how small an act of kindness or generosity or simple positivity you put out into the world, it will make a difference.”
—Wonder Woman comic
North Central University Co-Chancellor Dr. Robyn Wilkerson defines motherhood “as loving and caring for the motherless.” She continues to describe it as, “more than having your own biological child.”
I have come to understand motherhood encompasses the biotic as well as beyond. It comprises coaching, caring and loving. These are superhero traits regularly needed and especially when we encounter the supervillains in our lives. It’s about producing and being fruitful even if not biologically having borne the fruit ourselves but being willing and ready to do so.
Our families are a composite of chromosome connections as well as by choice. connections These assortment of choices are evident throughout our community, many of whom play major roles regularly. From terrifically traditional, problematically predictable to quirkily chosen and unconventional, how we choose to observed Mother’s Day can be incredibly meaningful. Allowing the Superhero Shields in our lives this day of recognition is one day that can house many. Whether you bore children, lost a child, are mother to many beyond your womb yet lovingly affecting many who may have been wounded or, just in need of some additional TLC during a particular season in their life, your motherhood is necessary and appreciated.
I’m told often I should foster children, even think about adopting. While these options aren’t out of the realm of possibility, I believe right now what I’m called to do in this season of my life is to encourage others toward healthier existences, be as healthy a healer as I can possibly be and continue to nurture spaces of grace. This type of nurturing is continual and is something I wish to impart upon as many as possible. My continual healing journey and commitment to community wellness is how in part my way of honoring my child and The Nurturers who have cared about me, from crappy to happy stages, and all in between.
“I will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.”
—Diana, Wonder Woman movie