Mother (verb). Childbearing not required.

Today – Mother’s Day – is a difficult holiday for so many women.

It’s difficult, because society has traditionally put enormous pressure on women to show their value by spreading their legs, incubating a life, and then giving birth. And then once we’ve gone through the adequate number of hard labor hours to spew forth life, (don’t even think about having a C-section or drugs lest natural birth Nazis devalue your whole experience) we’re expected to turn into Cersei Lannister, supporting and defending our children, even when they’re vile little tyrants.

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Don’t get me wrong, my intention is not to downplay motherhood in any way. Motherhood is a grueling, mostly thankless twenty-four-seven job for the rest of your life. And even when you do all you can, investing every cent available and pouring your heart and soul into your child, there’s no guarantee they won’t make some catastrophic decision that ruins their whole damn life.

How many times can we honestly beg our children not to drink and drive, try dangerous recreational drugs, have unprotected sex, run with scissors, and to eat their damn veggies?

Being a mother is the only job I’ve ever had where I feel less qualified with each hour I put in. 

Seriously. And on the rare occasion I do feel like I have things moderately figured out, the whole thing implodes with the request of something I should be able to make or do because someone else’s mom can make or do it. This mom gig is brutal. There should be classes or at least some twenty-four hour helpline or something.

 

But today – Mother’s Day – should be about more than celebrating those of us who have birthed children. What about the mothers who couldn’t, or chose not to, have children? What about the crazy aunts? Stepmoms? Foster moms? Adoptive moms? Grandmothers raising their grandchildren? Single dads doing it all alone? Do they have less of an impact on society? Are they less motherly?

No.

Sure mother is a noun, but it’s also a verb, and there is no childbearing requirement to get in on this sort of labor.

Mother: verb – to love, nourish, protect, teach, comfort, guide, nurture, support, embrace, cherish, reassure. – unknown.

Can you believe that some non-biological mothers actually choose to work this job? They’re like the opposite of Cersei Lannister. They have a choice to love no one, but they make the conscious decision to love, nourish, protect, teach, comfort, guide, nurture, support, embrace, cherish, and reassure people who didn’t even come out their who-ha.

Then in thanks for their voluntary, unforced love and mothering, we spend the entire day – Mother’s Day – unintentionally making them feel like lesser women for their inability to (or decision not to) birth children.

So, can we just take a moment to invite the women choosing to mother (verb) despite not being a mother (noun), to share in this day with us?

Happy Mother’s Day, non-biological Mommas, you earned it. Thank you for all you do.

Parents who make the team

Tonight I witnessed something amazing.

My husband, Mel, and I were at a school game, watching our twelve-year-old son play the third game of his first ever basketball season. Isaac made his first in-game shot, a two-pointer, so I cupped my hands over my mouth and cheered as loudly as I could.

On the way home, Isaac said, “Mom, after I hit that basket, I turned around and all I could see was you freaking out.” He even mimicked my gestures.

I promptly informed him he was going to have to deal with it, because I’d always be cheering for him.

He got this weird look on his face and said, “You didn’t embarrass me.”

My heart swelled. I really freaking love that kid.

But none of that was the amazing scene I witnessed.

When I got to the game, I sat beside my friend Kim. We’re football moms together, but her son plays basketball for the opposing team. Regardless, you better believe that every time Isaac had the ball, Kim cheered him on. But here’s the weird thing… beyond my son, and her son, Kim cheered for her son’s entire team.

Every single one of them.

And it wasn’t like she was cheering for numbers. We didn’t have programs, but Kim knew each child on her son’s team by name. She cheered when they made shots and when they got interceptions (ahem, steals. Apparently they’re called steals in basketball). She even encouraged the boys when they missed shots.

My friend Kim is crazy-busy. She works full-time, her son is always playing at least one sport (sometimes two and she has to juggle practices with her work schedule), and she’s edited my last two books. But despite all the things she has going on, she memorized all of the kids’ names, because it was important to her to cheer them on.

Hear this… they are part of her son’s team, so Kim sees them as part of her team.

How wild is that?

You see, the reason my husband and I put our son in football in third grade was because we wanted him to learn the value of being part of a team. We wanted him to be part of something bigger than himself. Something fun and challenging, that taught him to listen to instructions, and value the team’s needs above his own. That’s what it means to be a team.

But tonight, Kim reminded me – as parents – we also have a job in our child’s team. If we don’t teach them (by showing them, not just telling them) how to cheer for their fellow teammates, who will?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a list of names – Isaac’s teammates – to memorize.