As I watched our minister navigate his way through the minefield of Mother’s Day, trying to ensure all those women who couldn’t, didn’t, or don’t have children were included in the special honours attributed to Mothers, I began to think about how one might approach the celebration of Mother’s Day without all of the anxiety and tension over making sure nobody feels left out, or ensuring that one is not highlighting someone’s feelings of loss or regret over not having children.
If you’ve ever been to the Cornwall Center in Regina, you will have noticed a large statue of three larger-than-life, buxom women. Two of the women are each holding a child, but one sits without a child. It occurred to me as over the years I’ve watched my children drawn to touch and see this particular statue every time they passed it, that while one woman sits empty handed, and the other two have children, that in fact all three women are mothers. The facial expressions of all three women reveal their mothering hearts and burdens. The one who does not hold a child was of the most interest to my children; they often crawled into her lap.
Even though this woman sits without a child, she is still a mother, a childless mother, and a mother to all of the children she chooses to embrace, or to those who embrace her. Some women can’t or don’t want to have children of their own, yet they are still mothers; they still carry the heart and the cares of a mother. They still look out for and care for children: nieces, nephews, neighbourhood children, students, godchildren, or children of friends. They are important to the needs of children for acceptance in a larger community than their home. When I was a child one woman I knew, whose children were either grown up or didn’t exist, would invite my cousin and me over for sleepovers. She treated us so special, making interesting foods for us to try, and talking with us like we were grown ups. We loved her for it. We would comb her hair sometimes and give her the kind of love and care that only children can. She was an important part of my upbringing. In the late 1970s she passed away, close to Mother’s Day, and the flowers I had purchased for my mom went to her funeral. On Mother’s Day I also remember her.
“It takes a community to raise a child.” It isn’t only the responsibility of parents to raise children. We women are all mothers, all bearing a heart that cares for the children.