Mothering is just One Kind of Love

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Every year, I share the same thoughts about Mother's Day. I wake up thinking about them, usually in this order:

My children, Wyatt and Loretta, are fascinating, tender marvels. And that doesn't have to do so much with me, but with the reality that all children--indeed all people!--are precious, precious bits of stardust, and the miracle is that we get to occupy this galaxy together at the same time. And with kids, the space between us just happens to be centimeters, and that makes for some pretty poignant moments.

My mother loved and loves me unstoppably. It doesn't have to be this way, but it is for me. It's like a cool glass of water that's always sitting there for me, watiting to be sipped or gulped. And someday, it will be otherwise.

Motherhood is just one kind of love. Janet loves her 3 cats and is mourning the loss of her 4th. Jordan fiercely loves all the children in her life though they are not her own. Emily is an astonishingly loving godmother to my son. Darlene showed me what it was like to mother before either of us experienced it. Whenever we pay attention to one another with our whole selves, we're mothering, nurturing, multiplying sparks of life in the universe.

I mourn for my friends who are unmothered. For whatever reason--abandonment, negect, death. JoElla posted this essay today, and it made my heart ache. This world can be a friendless place without a mother, and Mothers Day with all its flowery sentiments doesn't help.

I mourn for orphans all over the world. I don't feel called to adoption but I understand why people do. As the poet Blake says, "We are put on this earth a little while to learn the bear the beams of love." And if some people aren't under the light of those beams, we'd better find a way to put them there.

Paying attention to one another is hard. Whether you're a mother or not, our aspirations to take care of one another often fall flat when reality hits--work is hard, the washing machine breaks, another lunch needs to be made, someone we love is unkind or lets us down. The Hallmark cards weren't produced by someone in one of those moments.

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Whatever your story and whatever emotions come up for you today, I hope you can notice and be noticed. I hope you can love and be loved.

And I can't resist posting a Mary Oliver poem from my new book (a Mothers Day gift from Emily). Mary Oliver is the consummate dog-lover. Think of your dog or cat or child when you read this. Or think of yourself, being loved by God. Or think of your mother, whether she's on this earth anymore or not, getting all the love and tenderness she ever wanted.

Little Dog's Rhapsody in the Night

He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I'm awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
     in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

"Tell me you love me, " he says.

"Tell me again."

Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.