Long ago when my children were toddlers, my mother shared a bit of wisdom with me I cherish to this day. She said, “If something is important to you, you have to share its relevance with your children. Your boys will not know about Mother’s Day unless you tell them about it. Just as you explain why we celebrate the Fourth of July, you tell them why having a mother is very important in their lives and therefore, celebrated every May.”
As many traditions have changed over the years, motherhood has, too. Today there are categories of mothers that identify them. Rarely does one hear, “She is a mom.” Instead, “mother” has an adjective in front of her name such as step, surrogate, welfare, adoptive, stage and, of course, one that is very common today, the single mother.
Many women share the feelings I had as a young teenager. I wanted to have the experience of mothering a child from birth to adulthood. As I watched, listened and sometimes participated in the decisions my parents made with regard to their five children, I often considered what I would do as the mother. I did give my sons the opportunity to make decisions based on this memory. Now I know the wisdom that comes with maturity and experience.
I have been privy to the hopes and aspirations of many young people. After spending years as a teacher, I found achieving the state of motherhood was altered somewhat from what I wanted. Young girls often coerce someone into marriage by becoming pregnant. Yet even as I write this, marriage is no longer the natural course of action today for young pregnant women. Abortion, not adoption, has become a popular method of ending a pregnancy. The endorsement of abortion as a woman’s right to choose has changed the joy of motherhood, in my professional opinion.
Recently I watched the rescue of the abducted girls held hostage for 10 years freed from confinement as women. I had a short glimpse of the one who is mother to a 6-year-old girl, born while she was imprisoned. The commentator said she held her daughter close to her. It brought tears to my eyes realizing this woman probably was brave and took the risk because she desperately wants her daughter to have a life with freedom and opportunity. Now she can finally care, guide and help her daughter grow and learn while safe in her own bed.
My husband and I adopted our two sons when they were infants. Our oldest son was placed with us at 3 weeks old. We had been approved but waited well over three years for that all-important precious phone call. The adoption worker said his natural mother (now called “birth mother”) was thrilled to learn he had a home. We were ecstatic, crying happy tears, and were excited to advance from a couple to a family.
The mailman rang the doorbell one day about three weeks after our son came home. When I answered, he said, “I would like to meet Gregory, please. I have delivered more than 100 packages for him, so I know he is an important person.” I agreed; he came in and met our son, the best gift ever. Gregory enhanced my life with purpose. He went everywhere with me; I was living my dream. I celebrate Mother’s Day with the memories of the day he became our son. The mailman was his first friend and visited with him often in his early life. Gregory is a sterling man and enjoys his son today as much as I cherish the memories of my time with both Gregory and Douglas.
“To Mom, You ar the beast mummy in the hole wald. I lov yu.” — Gregory, age 5
“Always love me, okay ma?” — Douglas, age 3
Ann Bednarski of Carson City is a career educator and journalist.