Are You My Mother?

One of my family’s favorite books is titled Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman. It’s about a baby bird that has lost its mother and is searching for her. My husband and I loved reading this book to our children when they were young, and they remember the story with great fondness to this day.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine who doesn’t have children asked me if I would like to go with her to a Mother's Day tea hosted by our church. The ladies organizing the event reminded the women that, even if they are not mothers, they are someone’s daughter and should celebrate the day as well. I really liked the invitation’s inclusiveness, and it got me thinking about my own mom, along with the many women who have been like mothers to me over the years.

My mother had a lot of struggles in life. She was left in a New York orphanage sometime during the first year of her life in 1932. She told me how she remembered crying in her crib at the orphanage, wanting someone to pick her up and hold her, but no one did. No baby should have to go through that. For some reason, she wasn't allowed to be adopted for many years but was finally taken in by a family in Florida when she was around nine years old. She married my father at the age of twenty-one, but she never got over those years of abandonment. After my father died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 42, my mother struggled to cope with all the loss she had experienced. She searched for her biological mother for many years but was never able to find her due to strict adoption laws in the State of New York at the time. My mother became an alcoholic during my teen years and died at the age of 52. I miss her dearly.

Over the years I would see other female friends who had close relationships with their mothers and wished at times that I could have a mom there for me in the same way, to cry on her shoulder, just talk about whatever, or get her advice on something major or trivial. I’m exceedingly thankful for the women who were willing to be mothers to me over the years, and, as it turns out, there have been quite a few along the way.

Some of my “mother” friends have been older than I am, some closer to my age, and some younger. They got used to me calling them more often than perhaps their other friends did because I didn’t have my own mother to call. These women walked with me, shared with me, cried with me, and supported me in countless ways. It’s such a comfort to have a woman in your life with whom you can discuss those “hard-to-talk-about” subjects, including love, frustrations, feelings of inadequacy, anger, sex, hopes, and fears. I was thankful these ladies were willing to step in and be moms to me whenever and however much they could at the time.

I also remember feeling somewhat awkward that I didn’t have my own mother to lean on, and I’m sure other women have felt the same. It’s hard to admit that we are vulnerable, have needs, and basically still need mothering, even if we are all grown up!

My son died in a skiing accident twelve years ago, and the first Mother’s Day after his death was especially painful. There is nothing a mother wants to do more than protect her child from harm, and I felt like an utter failure in every sense of the word. I remember my husband’s grandmother telling me to be strong for my other children. That seemed impossible to do at the time, but I knew she was right and that I had to at least try.

In those first terrible months after the accident, I would get up in the morning, go out to my car where my other children couldn’t hear me, and call my mother-in-law. She would spend as much time as it took convincing me to want to live that day. I can’t remember how long those phone calls went on, but it was quite a while before I could get through the morning without calling my mother-in-law.

Now I find that God is giving me many opportunities to be a “mom” to friends of my own, and this brings me joy. It’s interesting how easy it is to be there for someone else and how often we don’t recognize the opportunities that present themselves right before our eyes. After all, there is so much to get done: work, grocery shopping, cooking, finances, children’s activities, spending time with our spouse or significant other, and catching up with our closest friends. The list goes on and on. Yet, it doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time to be someone’s mother, just a willing and open heart.

Even a woman whose mother is still living may experience a frustrating relationship with her mom at any given point in time. It can be difficult to know exactly why the relationship is troubled, since many factors are often involved. Both women—the mother and the daughter—need other “mothers” to help them work through these challenges and hopefully make improvements in their biological mother-daughter relationship.

I know quite a few married women today who are struggling to get pregnant. They wonder if they will ever be mothers. It isn’t easy to wait upon the Lord’s will in general, but this is especially the case when the biological clock is ticking away. Maybe these lovely ladies will adopt a sweet child and give him or her the love I wish my own mom had received. I know that God does the unexpected, and our timing is not always his timing. I also know that whether a woman is young or old, married or unmarried, has children or not, she can be a mom to the many people who don’t have a mother in their lives, for whatever reason.

As this Mother’s Day approaches, take time to remember all the women in your life who have mothered you in various ways. Have as much grace for your mother as you possibly can, and pray to God for more grace to help those without moms in their lives right now. Take a chance and reach out to women and men, both young and old, who are looking for a mother. They won’t be hard to find.

Related Article: A Word of Encouragement on Motherhood

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