“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”
  — Sophia Loren

I have heard it said that we never really hand over the reins of childhood to the next generation until we become parents.  When I think of all the childhood games I have played again and again with my children and then with their children, I really don’t think we turn anything over.   Instead, we let small hands hold the reins and clasp our own around them as we share the excitement of the wild ride together.

In two days, we will celebrate Mother’s Day.  In our family, we also will celebrate the seventh birthday of Cheyenne, who was born two days before Mother’s Day in 2007.  Celebrating both on the same day reminds us to pause and give thanks for mothers and for children and for the adventures they live together.

When Cheyenne was born, just in time for Mother’s Day, her status was uncertain.  She arrived with special needs that set into motion a flurry of monitors and surgeries and beeping machines in the NICU.  Nobody knew what lay ahead for her, and all that could be celebrated that first Mother’s Day was that she had survived her arrival and that we had hope in our hearts for her future.  Seven years later, outsiders would never imagine that her daily routines still include extreme measures that have become routine.  To the naked eye, she and her mom are exactly like any other mother and daughter — joined at the heart forever.

When occasions collide, like Chey’s birthday and Mother’s Day, it gets our attention; and we move beyond the hearts and flowers to consider that there are many kinds of mothers who will celebrate on Sunday.  Let’s not get so caught up in Hallmark’s idea of the day that we forget to acknowledge them.

Let’s remember the moms like Cheyenne’s — the ones who daily perform extreme duties with grace and joy, the ones who give their very special children ordinary lives, the ones who make multiple trips to hospitals and therapies, to doctors and specialists, the ones who store medical supplies as well as toys and celebrate the small successes that keep their kids going.

Let’s remember the moms like me — the ones who have outlived a child and whose hearts and flowers are expressed in sweet memories as well as in the traditional ways with their living children.

Let’s remember the moms whose children are raised by other parents — the ones who were not ready to be mothers for whatever reasons, the ones who feel quite alone on Mother’s Day as their hearts remember their babies.

Let’s remember the stepmothers — the ones called wicked, whose hearts are big enough and strong enough and loving enough to withstand the cries of, “you’re not my real mom,” while being more real that anyone can imagine.

Let’s remember the moms like my own whose late-life dementia sometimes makes it seem that they have forgotten who their children might be — the ones who, if they are very lucky, have taught their children about being parents and now accept mothering from the people they once held and nurtured.

Let’s remember the ones who now parent their parents and show motherly love to those who created them.

Let’s remember the childless mothers who bring love and nurturing and teaching and care to other people’s kids — the aunts, the teachers, the neighbors, the friends — who carry on the fine tradition of mothers everywhere without the recognition of a special day.

Whatever sort of mother you may be this year, we celebrate that you are part of our world.  After all, where would any of us be without a mom?