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May 8, 2008

Mother's Day

I've done some reflecting today, brought on by a conversation earlier this week with my niece about Mother's Day. I have hardly ever noticed or paid attention anymore to days like Mother's Day and Father's Day, since losing my own parents some 4 to 8 years ago. Since I'm not a parent myself, not giving these days much thought after losing my own parents is perhaps understandable. To my niece, as a mom, Mother's Days ranks up high on her list of days she likes to celebrate. I have a family member who, like me, never had the opportunity to be a mother. This day is so difficult for her, she often can't bring herself to go to church on Mother's Day. This shows a gamut of emotions about this day, from the people I in my life.

Today, I mused often about motherhood and me, during my long commute to and from my schools. During my depressed and often bitter years, I was at times upset about my isolation and loneliness. However, not quite three years ago, I began my life renovation project. The beauty of this, is that I'm constantly growing and changing in my perceptions of life and in my evaluations of it.

When I was in my 20's I had decided that if I didn't have marriage or a family of my own by the age of 35, I would adopt and become a single mother. Short story: life happened. I never got a handle on how to live it well enough to evolve beyond surviving and being ready and able to pursue going after a single mother adoption mode. Reading the sentence I just finished, is the first time I think I could understand why it never happened. I'm kind of amazed at what I wrote and it's illuminating to me.

As I look at motherhood now, I honor the mothers who give birth to/adopt/foster children and raise families. The sacrifices are immense. During these last few years, I've learned that even without ever being a mom, you can have "children of your heart". That is the kind of mom I am today. I have children of my heart. There are young children who have entered my life, grown up in it, and I have been rewarded by their contribution, as well as allowed to contribute to their life is some small fashion.

Over two years ago, I had to move from one side of my duplex to the other, as my landlord had renovated the one side, and wished to renovate this side I was living in. At that time, I weighed nearly 400 lbs, was on oxygen 24/7 and able to do very little for myself. Out of the woodwork cropped former students. These grown up kids were from the very first class that I student-taught when they were 6th graders. After getting my teacher's license, I then taught them for 3 years when they were in middle school. They helped me with my move, which I was physically unable to do myself. During this time period, I first realized I had a family of sorts. I had "children of my heart". There have been other students who keep me in their lives since, who get to be added to my heart's family. I have learned in these last 2 1/2 to 3 years that my heart just has to be open to love for me to be fulfilled. This realization, and my ability to appreciate what I DO (vs. DON'T) have in these last few years have enriched me beyonds words.

This morning, I was eating breakfast with my little great niece and nephew gathered around me helping me eat my breakfast. My niece was on the couch opposite me watching this scene play out. The picture she was seeing of me with the kids around me was so touching to her it brought tears to her eyes. She talked about the impact I had on her life, her love for me and how much it meant to her to see the children she loves so much being connected to me who she loves so much. Further more, she talked about how much it means to her that they get to have me in their lives the way she had me in her life. I was touched and honored to my very depths by what she, a "child of my heart" felt about my role in her life. Now through her, I'm blessed to have grandchildren of my heart , as well as through the other children of my heart. How much richer could my life be?

I can never be the true parent, nor deserve the honor and respect that the true parents and grandparents are fully deserving of, but I can have/give love. I CAN be enriched and fulfilled by the love of the children of my heart. This love I can give and receive is my "manna from heaven". I have other nieces and nephews that I love; some living close, some living far away, they too are children of my heart. A couple of my nieces are readers of my blog, and I get to read theirs. I love how this technology is enrichening my life here too, by making me feel able to share a small tiny part of the lives of those I love who live far away.

Family members, former students/current friends, and all those who I'm privileged to have in my life, I love you. Thanks for all you add to my life; through all of you, I've found joy and love. To all you moms, have a great Mother's Day on Sunday. You are all wealthy in children and in experiencing the joy they bring to your lives. The young mothers are all doing awesome jobs, with little sleep and lots of stress. The grandmothers amongst you have blessings galore in those blessedly amazing children and granchildren who adore you. To all the children of my heart, thanks all the joy and love you bring to my life.


Shannon Fuller said...

Ann.. I love reading your blog! It's interesting to hear what your thoughts are. You are like a mother to me, even though we don't see each other often. I just love what you wrote about Mothers and how you have "children of the heart" It really touched me because you are a mother to any child who comes into your life.

cami said...

Wow Ann, I love to read your posts, so inspirational. The great thing about getting older is that we get a second chance to love ourselves for who we are and our circumstances. I loved reading about your Mother's day thoughts. You played a great role in my life as an aunt. I will always remember my trip to Denver with my cousins to visit our anunt Ann!

Ang said...

You really are very inspirational to all who read. I also am blessed to have you in my life. I love to read and continue to grow through you. I learn so much. Love you!