Each May on the second Sunday of the month, we celebrate our mothers. Flowers, candy, and meals they don’t have to cook abound, as moms get a day off and a little appreciation. But what about those women who aren’t technically your mom but nurture and guide you just as much (or more)?
“Not Yo’ Mama” Origins
Mother’s Day dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, except back then it was a day to honor the goddesses Rhea and Cybele. Rhea was the mother of the most well-known gods and goddesses (Zeus and the gang) and was symbolic of female fertility and motherhood. She famously fed her progeny-swallowing husband Kronos a stone to save her youngest son Zeus, who later overthrew his father and liberated his siblings. Cybele is a “primal nature goddess” and often associated interchangeably with Rhea.
Christians then brought the holiday into our more modern incarnation. “Mothering Sunday” was a Christian festival held on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It was a time for Christians to return to their hometown to their “mother church”. Over time, children presented flowers and other small gifts to their mothers on this day, secularizing the holiday.
The Other Mothers
Mother’s Day didn’t begin with a biological twist, so why should Mother’s Day be a day reserved only for “official birth certificate” mothers? Fifty-percent of all US families are stepfamilies, and according to 2015 census information, there are 858,896 same-sex families in the US, of which 412,001 are male-male couples with children. Some biological mothers abandon their children, are not fit mothers, or just can’t offer what their child needs in a mother. So, other women step into a child’s life to bring mothering energy—a nurturing, guiding, comforting presence. We see the committed step-mother at all of her child’s volleyball or soccer games. The dedicated grandmother, aunt, or sister who acts a child’s mother, because, for some reason, the bio-mom is not there. The loving adoptive mother who cares for and protects a child as her own, fierce as a mother lion.
As a society, we have seen a break in the mold of the traditional family. However, mothering isn’t limited to a child’s family dynamic. In fact, often we as adults continue to look for maternal guidance.
The Mothering Mentor
As an adult woman, I found I didn’t have all of the information I needed for my life’s journey as a woman, since my mother and I are pretty different people. I searched out mentors who could fill in those blanks. I found them in the funniest places.
I met my life philosophy guru, Rosealee, at a job I didn’t love. By quietly observing her and listening, I learned a lot about work, people in general, and the world. I still sit at her knee, so to speak, (on social media) to learn from her. My favorite professor, Hilene, magically helped me find my backbone and my voice. My dear friend, Erika, taught me how to bring my goals to life. All these women mothered me in some way to help me to realize my higher self, my better self, and I daresay, my true self. It was something beyond friendship; it was a passing of wisdom and experience in a guiding and caring manner. Most women I meet have those same figures in their lives.
This Mother’s Day, take a moment and appreciate all those women who have given you mothering energy. If you stop to meditate on it for just a moment, they will come to mind. It takes a village to raise a good human; cherish your village.