Mothering Takes a Village
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
There have been times when my children have gone to “other mothers” to get some advice, confide in, share with. This was especially true during the rocky teen years when, despite my greatest intentions and desires to love through it all, I would falter and turn a cold shoulder, spew words I regretted, allow my hurt to block my love.
During those times, my girls sometimes turned to an “other mother.” I felt awful about this…angry at myself for failing my child, and jealous of the “other mother” for being able to do what I couldn’t at that time—give compassion, offer kindness, or wisdom.
I now see these “other mothers” very differently. I see them as gifts. The old saying “hindsight is 20/20” proves to be true, once again. Those “other mothers” created a village in which my girls could be loved, nurtured, heard despite my limits. I’m thankful for those “other mothers.” I believe that they were God’s provision for some of the needs I couldn’t fill.
I too had the benefit of “other mothers.” Mom had her limitations. In fact, she was absent a lot of the time…running, running, running often, I think from her pain, during the seven years my grandmother lived with us. And Mom found it admittedly hard to express her love to us; the wreckage of a mentally ill mother whose mantra was, “When I say those terrible things, pretend I’m saying I love you.”
I now see I am the beneficiary of tremendous encouragement, inspiration, love from lots of “other mothers” too.
My Godmother was one of these “other mothers.” In 53 years, she has always remembered my birthday…and has always expressed her love for me and for the Lord generously. At 81, she just recently set up her Facebook page…this woman seizes life.
Grandma, oh yes, she was Jesus with skin on in the midst of incredibly tumultuous years, offering her faith, her unconditional love, her assurance that despite the chaos, things would be okay. Grandma taught me about hope and perspective.
There was Mrs. C who took the time to teach me how to paint landscapes. She expressed beauty through her paint and brushes…and pushed back my doubts, helping me believe even I had creative potential.
Another Mrs. C remained caring and approachable when I made some very stupid decisions. She did not withhold her love. She held me accountable and accepted and loved me anyway. She was that mom. Always there, always feeding us, always welcoming a gaggle of girls.
Mrs. R had an open door and open ear policy no matter how controversial the issue was. You could talk to her about what was really going on. She taught me to listen and consider all sides of an issue.
Mrs. T would sit me down, feed me, refresh me when I needed escape from the tension and confusion of middle school and high school. She provided a safe haven and she offered peace and calm in the midst of the storm.
Another Mrs. C would lift me up when I was down, talk me through my low self esteem, take joy in our time together, made me feel always welcome, always cherished. Through her eyes, I could see my worth, beauty, and felt loveable.
These were the moms of my younger years, from the tough years between 10 and 20. There have been more since. Lilian the personification of grace…Fern the fervent prayer warrior…Val the epitome of positivity.
I’m thankful for every deposit they put into my emotional, developmental, psychological bank account. And I am thankful that my girls too have benefited from “other mothers.”
How about you? Were there “other mothers” in your life? Did you benefit from the investment of an older, wiser person who wasn’t your parent? If you have the opportunity to say thanks, today might be the day!