Mothers of the Heart

What would the world look like without the mother figures in our lives? The mums, grandmothers, step mothers, foster mothers, god mothers, big sisters and women we call aunty? They’ve dressed us, shaped us and given us advice—some we’ve asked for and some we haven’t. They’ve given us courage and skills and taught us the life lesson that we’re so much stronger than we think.

This Mother’s Day I want to celebrate one of the most important aspects of womanhood. Each woman nurtures. Each woman cares for those around her. Each woman who cares for anyone other than herself is a Mother of the Heart, even if they never become mothers of the womb.

You don’t have to be related to make a difference. 

They say that blood is thicker than water. But perhaps that isn’t always the whole truth. Every year we celebrate the remarkable mothers who have taught us right from wrong — but what about the other women who shaped our world in so many ways?

Stepmoms may feel as though they have all of the pain, frustrations, financial strain, and difficulty of being a parent, but none of the rewards or joy. Stepmoms can feel “outside the family circle” or to be made to feel like an outcast.  Many stepmothers play important maternal roles,  doing everything from taking kids back-to-school shopping to baking cupcakes for school parties. They co-parents with their partners, and work hard to bond with their stepchildren.  Parenting in general can be a thankless job so it’s important for those of you who are stepmothers to not take what happens (or doesn’t) on Mother’s Day too personally.

Grandmothers often step in to raise their grandchildren when parents are absent or unable to care for them or even when childcare is just too costly. Raising a second generation can be both rewarding and challenging. You’re giving your grandkids a feeling of security, developing a deeper relationship, and keeping the family together. These wonderful Grandmothers pick up the slack. They fight for custody, they change the nappies, bathe and feed and clothe the children. They take them to school and help with their homework. Many times the grandmother is the only mother the child will ever know.

And then there are the heroes that we call Foster Mothers – the ones who step in to love and care for a child in the most difficult of circumstances. Mother’s Day can be fraught with heartache for the children in the Foster Moms care. Foster kids can feel disloyal to their biological mothers if they celebrate this new person who loves them and cares for them. But Foster Moms soldier on. When they are hurt or sick, there is no mommy for them to turn to except for the care of a loving Foster Mom. She opens her heart and her home, giving safety and security for the world’s children, some of whom are unwanted and unloved.

When mom is lucky enough to have sisters, their children are lucky enough to have Aunties. Aunts not only help mom when they need a helping hand, but they become a kids best friend who will show them the way. But will sometimes be more of a ‘partner in crime’ than a parent.  Having another strong female figure to depend on is priceless. So this Mother’s Day thank your Aunt for letting us stay up late, eat sweets and chocolate(!), and for keeping your secrets.

Then there are all the girlfriends, teachers, mentors, bosses who have inspired or encouraged you. They too are part of the mothering circle that we as women share. As women, we give and it comes back to us, a thousand-fold. So this Mother’s Day let’s celebrate all the women in our lives who have nurtured, supported, and cared for us throughout our lives. May we always remember to celebrate and strive to be Mothers of the Heart.

Who are your ‘Mothers of the Heart’ who’ve influenced your life? I’d love to hear about it on  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.