There are many ways to be a mother. There are nurturing mothers. Evil stepmothers. And even that “mother %#$&er” driving in front of you this morning at 20 mph in a 45 when you were late for work.
I can remember one of the first kids I had in my teaching experience that just always happened to be hanging around. He was there in the morning before school started. He was there after school until I left. He was kind of weird. He didn’t smell great. He had a fairly unstable home life and transferred in and out of the district about 3 times over the course of his high school career, but every time he was back in the district, he was back in my class. I had him first as a freshman in my Freshman English class. Then again as a sophomore in my Freshman English class. Then, finally again as a Senior in my – you guessed it – Freshman English class (he actually passed the class that time). He came back a couple of years after he had graduated and said to me, “Mrs. Kinsley, I don’t think I would have ever graduated high school if you didn’t believe in me. You were never mean to me and you always said you knew I could do it. No one else ever told me that.” Being an encourager is a quality of being a mother. Of course being a high school teacher, I have countless stories of giving kids food, helping them with their homework, listening to the heartbreaks of break ups and to the heartbreaks of parents divorcing. All of those things have to do with mothering.
Both men and women mother at different times to different people and animals throughout their lives. Volunteering, helping the elderly, helping the young, even caring for your sick spouse. All of these instances give us a chance to mother. As a society, I challenge those with kids to think about those without kids as extended mothers. If we are all really doing our part then each of us at one time or another will be “mothers.” Maybe mothers as teachers, pet owners, care givers, food preparers, gardeners, cleaners, etc. What parent hasn’t enlisted a babysitter, teacher, or friend for help or advice? As families, communities, and a society we should nurture a spirit of acceptance and love so that when the children of today become the adults of tomorrow, they will all act with a sense of obligation and responsibility toward all children whether they are traditional parents or not.
So in the spirit of mothering, I’ll stop honking at that “mother” driving so slowly in front of me on my way to work.
What do you think? Where are the hidden mothers in your life (besides the carpool lane)?