Some words are loaded with emotion. “Mother” is one of them. If you’re reading this, you had a mother, whether you knew her or not, loved her or not, appreciated her or not. Some of you may have recently lost your mother. Some of you may just have found her. Some of you may by locked in battle with the woman who gave you birth. Some of you may count your blessings every day that she was the one who did.
My mother has been gone for many years. She never knew I would add another son to my family. She didn’t see any of my children reach adolescence, graduate from college, make successful marriages and careers. Before she died she had only just begun to know my daughter, who came from India to join our family at age six. She never saw Jessamyn Emilie mature into a woman and add the next “Emilie” to a line that now extends five generations.
But though she’s been gone for decades, my mother lives in my memory and the memory of the grandchildren who knew her. Her life was never simple, never easy. She battled depression and phobias and a serious weight problem. She was forced to begin all over again after a bitter divorce. But she perservered through difficult times, found a good job and became a valued employee. She doted on her grandchildren and made sure her children knew how special they were. She brightened the world with her lovely voice, her terrible puns and her boogie woogie piano concerts.
My mother was the original Emilie Richards, and although she gave me her name, I grew up with a nickname. When the time came to think about a pen name, I took back my real one. I wanted her name on every book cover. Because without Mom, there would have been no books. And I know she would have loved them all.
So here’s to my mother and to yours. To mothers everywhere, good and flawed and somewhere in between. Here’s to birth mothers and adoptive mothers, stepmothers and foster mothers, to aunts and friends and teachers who mother other women’s children, simply because they need it.
Mother’s Day may be a Hallmark holiday, but what a great idea it is, anyway. This is another excuse to be happy, to honor the people who have changed our lives, to breathe deeply and bask in the good memories.
I hope you have good ones. I hope you leave good ones behind.