I was sitting in the Coffee Corner at the Thrift Store during our Tuesday Drop-In. A quiet woman from the community who I’ve been slowly getting to know over the last few years asked me, “what did you do to prepare for mothering?” A good question and one that I realize I’m not often asked. I paused, thought and replied, “I was privileged to have a wonderful example in my own mother”.

I come from a long line of women who were able to have children and be exceptional mothers. I always wanted to be a mother myself because of them, often imagining that I would have a few children. I slowly had to come to terms with the reality that I was to have one child (our beloved Cate), learning along the way to appreciate the struggle one feels when fertility is an issue. I also discovered that my maternal instincts existed in relationships beyond the one I have with my biological daughter. Sometimes I talk about how this “probably” had something to do with my choice of vocation. Of course, if I am honest I should replace the word “probably” with “certainly”. I always wanted to find work that reflected my passion.

With all of this in mind, I paused on Mother’s Day to consider: the gift that my mother is to me; the challenge it was to have Cate, her beautiful arrival and how hard it is to remember life without her; the number of women who have spiritually and emotionally mentored me; the fact that I have a step-mother and mother-in-law who love and support me; the children I have the pleasure of watching grow; the Dale community and my “motherly” role in it.

I also invited The Dale to acknowledge Mother’s Day in all of its complexity. For many people in our community mothers are gone because of either estrangement, abandonment or death. Some people grieve the inability to have children of their own while others remember the children they gave up. What binds all of these layers together though is a deep desire to be loved and to show love, a truth that my friend at the Thrift Store shared as a part of our conversation that day: “I won’t ever be a mother in the traditional sense, but I would still like to learn how to love like one”. Should we all.