I was blessed to spend Christmas Day with some wonderful and rare women, all mothers to me in one way or another. We talk about Mary on Christmas Day because of her special motherhood. I think on Christmas Day, perhaps even more so than Mother’s Day, it’s right to celebrate mothers and their place in this world.
My actual mother, here with her favorite cup of tea (this is the best tea I’ve ever had, as she says about what’s in front of her at the moment). She’s lived a quirky and eccentric life and somehow raised four girls and they raised her. She is a blessing, even in the difficult days of the caring and cleaning and frustrations of old age. She now forces us into comedic breaks which we really need. My husband said “Happy Halloween” to her on Christmas morning, and then she refused to believe us when we said it was actually Christmas — “no, you’re joking!” she insisted. When I was a little girl and young adult, she would unfailingly tell me I was beautiful, smart, talented, and a wonder. She had a small world in her mind and didn’t have a lot to compare me to, so I took her words with a grain of salt. But I’ve since understood to never underestimate words like this, they are powerful and shaping, and when spoken in child-like faith are a sort of beacon of light and hope eternal.
Next is Tana, my mother-in-law. She’s been my friend and mother for 17 years now, and is a piece of my foundation. She raised three boys, and that alone makes her a rockstar. Her boys are funny and warm and love her and each other, true evidence of mothering well-done. God knew I needed some help and sent me Tana. Her fierce loyalty and deep friendship is really something. She is part of this group of seven women who went to high school together — what, 50 years ago? — and they still get together without fail a couple times a year. She inspires me to be a good and faithful friend. Also, I’m terrible at celebrating milestones, and without her help, there would have been far fewer birthday parties and other commemorating events in the lives of my children.
And Donna, the matriarch, without whom there would be no mother-in-law and no husband. She’s the only grandmother I have, my own grandma who was also a rare and beautiful soul, has been in Heaven for two decades now. I love this woman so much. Donna’s bright smile just makes me happy, and she is always happy — honestly, I don’t see her melancholy ever. True, I only see the best foot we put forward in the world, but when I’m thinking that life isn’t fair or I should have it like such-and-so, I think of her. She’s been through some battles and is the epitome of gracious long-suffering — though she would never see it that way. What, I haven’t suffered, she would say. She is practical, compassionate, consistent, and full of divine grace.
I am ever grateful for these mothers. William Makepeace Thackeray said that Mother is the name of God in the lips and hearts of children. I would add that it’s the name of God for all humanity when we’re in need of patience and forbearance and unconditional love — and a voice to say, “you can do it, honey.”