I’ve benefitted greatly from exceptional mothering, and been blessed to bear witness to so many remarkable mothers over the years. Mothers with an astounding amount of grace, wisdom and strength. I could write about so many of these women as each have unique stories and are all so deserving. But, when I think of motherhood, there is one woman in particular who will forever stand out to me.
This woman was a single mom to two children, with another on the way. She worked tirelessly and spent countless hours daily on buses and trains, all while meticulously tending to her two young sons. She worked hard and slept little, both without a single complaint. One day, and through no fault of her own, what little she did have in this world was taken out from under her.
Although our friendship began several years earlier, I never truly appreciated the extent of her circumstances until we came to visit in person. Her reality was heartbreaking, and shook me to the core. Even so, her resilience never wavered, and my respect and admiration for her continued to grow during our time together.
Alone in her journey, when the time came, my husband and I drove her to the hospital. Though her burdens were heavy, she stayed strong through it all. We talked and laughed and sat in silence as we listened to the strong and perfect little heartbeat on the monitor. We guessed about his or her gender and talked about names. I was honored to be part of this moment, her moment.
At 2:58 pm on March 1, 2011, her chubby cheeked baby with a head full of hair let out her first cries. It was one of the most beautiful and surreal moments of my life, and no doubt hers too. The reality was equally devastating. When the doctor announced, “you have a girl”, we held hands and cried. For a moment, time stood still and it felt like just the two of us.
The room spun under the weight of a multitude of big feelings. Surely this new mom had so many dreams for her child. The places she would take her and the things they might one day do. The boos-boos she would kiss and countless stories she would read. The school plays and graduations she would one day sit through. But through her tears, and mine, she squeezed my hand and whispered to me, “you have a girl”. How could my heart be filled with such overwhelming love and wonder and gratitude while simultaneously feel broken, shattered and forever scarred.
She wouldn’t be taking this little miracle home with her. Instead, lovingly placing her in the same arms she chose to place a son three years prior. She knew the magnitude of her decision and the pain that the coming days and months and years would bring. She understood that signing her name was forever changing the trajectory of all our lives. She knew the heartache of watching another woman raise her child. Knowing all this, she forfeited her role and their future together. But why?
Because that’s what love does.
We often hear about the depths of a mother’s love. The courage a mother possesses and lengths in which she will go in order to protect and provide for her children. The supernatural strength of a mother’s love is unmatched. Her child’s needs and best interest will always be paramount to her own. Whether human or animal, she will make these enormous and difficult sacrifices without hesitation. Because that’s what love does.
Love is the married mother who perfectly orchestrates her plans for motherhood.
Love is the single mother who works three jobs to provide for her family.
Love is the step mother or adoptive mother who chooses to mother another woman’s child.
Love is also the mother who sacrifices her role so that her child might have what she cannot at the time provide.
Among the countless special mamas I am fortunate to know, my children’s birthmothers are the embodiment of love. To love another so much that you would be willing to sacrifice an eternity without them. To me, there is a no love greater than his.
Happy Mother’s Day, Melissa!