The first time someone wished me a Happy Mother's Day and got me a card was probably around 2002 or 2003, long before I was technically a mother.
I'm a high school teacher, and our high school is attached to our middle school by a common hallway. There is a shared driveway around both buildings, and there are separate drop-off/pick-up points for the students. For several years, my brother-in-law was a student in both buildings. Depending on the weather or on schedules, there were times that I would take him home from school. Not a huge favor, by any stretch. He was a great kid and I enjoyed his company...and enjoyed helping out.
He was the first to ever give me a Mother's Day card. I'm sure it was his Mom's ideas, and that adds to my appreciation rather than diminishing it. It was nice to be acknowledged each year. In a way, I was doing a motherly duty, and it was nice to get a thank you every May.
On October 8, 2006, I became a mother to my own child. Tragically, he was born too early and I didn't get to experience any of the joys a new mother. Still, in my heart, I was a mother. It was just that my baby was born with an angel's wings.
Mother's Day of 2007 was hard. People were still on egg shells around me. Hell, I was still on egg shells around myself. As much as I tried to celebrate the mothers around me, I felt lost. There I was, a mother in my own way, but I had nothing to show for it. No cards. No flowers.
It was so hard.
We spent that night with my mother-in-law and the rest of my husband's family. It was an enjoyable evening, but I just felt so empty.
As we were leaving and saying our good-byes, my brother-in-law (my sister-in-law's husband...not the one I used to drive home from school) wrapped me in a bear hug, kissed my cheek, and wished me a "Happy Mother's Day." His mother had some angels of her own, and he knew that I needed to be acknowledged as a mother that day.
I'll never forget that he did that for me. He was the only one who did...
That's not to say that others weren't thinking about it. There were just too many egg shells, I think. Joe just happened to throw on some boots and stomp on them that night...and as it turned out, it was the perfect thing to do.
Fast forward to April 29, 2008. Just before 8:00 in the morning, I looked into the pink face of a beautiful little boy. My Nicholas. He was perfect. And a couple of weeks after his birth, I was celebrated as a mother.
And I finally felt whole.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there in all their forms.
For in the hearts of so many women, there beats a mother's heart. In most cases, that heart beats for the children laughing and playing around her feet. Sometimes it beats and breaks for an angel. It beats for a furry friend who cuddles up with her at night. It beats for nieces and nephews who fill her life with laughter. It beats for her students who fulfill a part of her soul. It beats for patients who need her delicate care.
In so many different and beautiful ways, so many of us have the heart of a mother...whether we have children or not.
And to all of those women with a mother's heart, Happy Mother's Day.