In Honor of Mothers, Forgotten

This is Mother’s Day and most families will be celebrating – giving mothers flowers, candy, cards, gifts, taking them out to dinner or cooking for them. It is a day when all mothers are clumped into one idealized bundle.

In the bundle there are mostly female, married women with children. The bundle draws attention primarily to the women who have “made the cut” according to society’s definition of what a mother, and a good mother at that, is.

But the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of mothers who should be acknowledged as well, even if they have not made the cut. There are the grandmothers who are acting as mothers for their grandchildren. There are the men, some widowed, some divorced, and some in same-gender loving relationships, who are mothers.

And then there are the forgotten mothers, the women who gave birth to babies but who were strung out on drugs or who for some reason are homeless, their children having been taken away. Nobody ever mentions them or thinks about them…but they exist.

And today, I stop to wonder how they are doing.

There are the women who, by virtue of having given birth, are mothers, but who, either years ago or maybe just this week, have given their newborns away because for some reason, they cannot keep them.

I wonder how they are doing.

There are mothers who are working two, three  jobs to make sure their children are taken care of. Because they are single mothers,  some black and brown, but not all, society spits on them and castigates them. Society blames all of its ills on single mothers.

I was a single mother, and I resent the categorization of single mothers as being somehow deficient.

How are those mothers doing, mothers who are so tired they can hardly hold their eyes open, but who are determined to do so because they love their children just as much as do married women with children?

Today I’m going to do something different. I am going to visit some of the forgotten mothers. I am going to sit with them and talk with them and let them know that they matter. The mothers may be female or they may be men who have stepped into the role of mother. It doesn’t matter their sex. What matters is their love for children.

There are too many forgotten mothers doing extraordinary jobs at being mothers, and there are too many forgotten mothers, sitting in places of despair because they feel unworthy or guilty or ashamed …or maybe all of those things. Some are sitting in homeless shelters, some may be on the streets, trying to make money so they can feed their children or perhaps make enough money to buy medicine for those children. Some may not have access to computers so they can put a nice tribute to their mothers online.

Some may be sitting in church with big hats, trying to forget their pain.

There are women who are mothers who have not been very good at it, women who were abused growing up and who abuse their children as well. There are some people who were just not cut out to be mothers. Just because you can have a child does not mean you are meant to be a mother.

But there are many others who had their babies and who are struggling to make ends meet, or struggling to get past their demons, or who are caught in places because of life. Everyone isn’t taught that life ain’t been no crystal stair. When bad things happen, they think it’s because of them, because of some deficiency in them. They don’t know that trials and challenges are non-discriminatory.

Mother’s Day indeed. This one, for me, will be different. All mothers count. Today, I think I need to remember that there are too many people called “mother” or who are in the role of mother, who have been forgotten. That seems, somehow, not right.

A candid observation …

 

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3 thoughts on “In Honor of Mothers, Forgotten

  1. Dear Susan, Thank you for this post. I am, and am not, one of “those” mothers, an 18 year old who gave her baby up for adoption out of necessity – I refused to bring her into my parents’ home where I was abused. We were reunited when she was 21 and I was 40, but I’m not “Mom”, I’m a friend. I am privileged to be loved, and I am Grandma Sandra to my two grandsons, who will soon enough be old enough to have children of their own to whom I will be great-grandma. My mother was a single mom until I was 11, and not very good at it, but I had a loving, caring, though demanding grandmother. I worked for over 20 years with homeless people as either a volunteer or in paid employment and have heard many stories. There are not many days that go by that I do not think of mothers of many kinds who society tries to sweep under the rug.

    Today is a day to remember that Black Lives Matter, and indeed, forgive this one co-opting of the slogan, to say that all lives really do matter.

    “Mothers’ Day Proclamation: Julia Ward Howe, Boston, 1870

    Mother’s Day was originally started after the Civil War, as a protest to the carnage of that war, by women who had lost their sons.
    ………………………………..

    Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
    whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

    Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by
    irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
    with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
    taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
    them of charity, mercy and patience.

    We women of one country will be too tender of those of another
    country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From
    the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
    It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
    of justice.”

    Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
    As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
    of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a
    great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women,
    to bewail and commemorate the dead.

    Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the
    means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each
    bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
    but of God.

    In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a
    general congress of women without limit of nationality may be
    appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at
    the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
    alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement
    of international questions, the great and general interests of
    peace.”

      1. Thank you, Susan. Your words touched me to write what you evoked. It’s been only two weeks since I was on silent retreat and discovered the deep well of sorrow around the loss of my child. I have no regrets, am sure I did the right thing, and my daughter is a lovely human being. Your words were timely in so many ways. Blessings on your day.

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