For many years I waited for my day to come. My day to say with pride and joy that it was my turn to fall in love, to get married, to conceive, to have the baby shower, to lovingly hold a newborn and wash it in the sink, to hold the little one's hand and walk them into school on their first day of school, to kiss their boo boo when they hurt their knee riding their bike, to scold them when they did something wrong, to hug them so tight they wanted to run away and wipe off my cooties, to help them with their homework and wonder where my brain cells went, to watch them in school plays, to wait up for them to come home from a date, to speak to them softly on the telephone and listen to their accomplishments in college, and I could simply go on and on about what I imagined motherhood was supposed to be like. But it did not happen like that for me. Nor for hundreds or thousands or millions of others of you.
Instead my one chance at conception was a gang rape that I was so traumatized and shamed by, the only thought process I had at the time was to end the pregnancy so quickly and quietly so I could move on with my life and go off to college and make something of myself. It took me 5 years, therapy and immense courage to be able to tell my family what had happened previously. Much to my surprise they seemed supportive. "We understand your situation." But they did not, as for most of my life I heard this second line whenever I would mentioned the desire for a husband or a child, "You chose a career over family." It still shocks me to this day when I hear it because in all reality I was never given that choice. Believe me, nobody offered me two pills and said "The red pill is a happy nuclear family guaranteed to stay together, and the blue pill is a career guaranteed to provide you money to pay all of your bills." Neither has happened in any of our lives and it boggles my mind that this is still the odd logic that some people use as a way of making themselves feeling better or in an attempt to criticize me for a choice regarding my body, education, career, motherhood, marriage or divorce. Apparently the people I chose to spend time with did not want children, and I became infertile the older I got and later had to have a hysterectomy. There is no crystal ball to forecast these things. I've heard it all "You can adopt still." "Find a guy that has kids." "Be a Big Sister." I finally faced My Truth – I still believed in the dream of Family. There's nothing wrong with that.
I also began celebrating how I had been a "mother" in many different ways. How have you created, nurtured or mentored another life? My life has been full and diverse with many different animals for over 45 years; never a dull moment and always something to clean up! I've been an auntie to many children of friends and foster children. I've been surrounded by hundreds of school children due to different Career Day opportunities over the years, so I have lots of photos, hand drawn pictures and notes on my walls at home just like you. I reflect on the many kids I babysat and now they have kids – oh my! I've been fortunate enough to embrace many different creative projects and consider them my children, good and bad! As a team lead or staff manager, when I see photos of employees I worked with or hear their name, I still hold a certain fondness and consider them family. I've learned to use my stern teacher voice when setting rules and turn on a soft and bedtime story reading voice when calming someone down. I've felt "pregnant" with new opportunities and ideas as an entrepreneur and community volunteer, and witnessed them come to fruition, knowing full well that they were beneficial and well-received. I've also sat with an open heart listening to a friend pouring their soul out with the coffee or the wine well into the night, letting them know they are not alone.
Being a "Mother" or "Grandmother" may come as a biological gift to some of you, but I believe there is a bit of magic in all of us that allows us to create and nurture. This is not gender-specific, nor does one need to have small humans in their household to qualify. I think it is an awareness of being responsible for or Loving Something Beyond Ourselves. Perhaps I am merely romanticizing this concept, but I see it in all of you and so I wish you all a very Happy Mother's Day to you and yours!
Love, Betsey xo
Elizabeth Garland, M.S., CPLC, MNLP, CGRS
Founder and Personal Development Coach with Soul Nourishing, LLC
Copyright 2014 Soul Nourishing