Opening your Heart to Love
May celebrates mothers: There’s a beauty to this day in the month of May where we stop and celebrate the mothers who gave us life, gave us their days, gave us their best so we could become our best.
I own a collection of scribbled cards from the kids who call me mom. They’re tucked into a drawer, saved year after year. Hazy memories of Mother’s Day of my childhood recall the same excitement of trying to surprise my mom with handwritten cards, a fresh flower corsage to wear to church, and maybe even a homemade breakfast. I’m thankful for a mom who taught me motherhood well.
May celebrates mothers: A beautiful boy lives in our home. He was carried into our home last May, a small 6-day-old in need of a “foster” mother who would foster within him all the things a mother should. This month marks one year. We have fostered him the only way we know how – a little wild and entirely loved. Fostering means “encouraging or promoting the development of something typically regarded as good.” We have fostered within our boy, who is not our boy, the best parts of us. We have held, loved, cooed, giggled, stayed up through inconsolable newborn nights.
It’s a crazy kind of love that looks into the eyes of a little one who isn’t yours, but with a heart that aches for him as though he belongs to this family of ours. Could someone please tell my heart what my head knows? This “ours but not ours” is the hardest kind of love, and fostering good things is not hard, but the unknown places of this kind of love feel fraught with fears.
There are thousands of mothers all over this country who on this mother’s day wear the title of “foster.” These mothers who welcome into their home the children whose lives were wrecked by abuse or neglect. We are a collective group of mothers who are taking broken pieces of beautiful lives and piece by piece putting together what will one day be beauty where once it was only broken.
May celebrates mothers: Can I tiptoe into an area of motherhood no one talks about? There are mothers who dreamed of motherhood, but had it yanked away because of their own choices, their own neglect, and their own abuse. These mothers ache, too.
I’m writing today in the early morning hours. By midmorning, I’ll be in our parish jail facility, where a few friends and I gather with female inmates for a voluntary Bible study. These women ache with the loss of their children.
I’ve asked myself one question on the long drive down the winding bayou road to the parish jail: “Can I love these women who have not shown love to others?”
The sobering days and months in jail often leave these women looking hard at their own lives, particularly their motherhood. Many cry over children lost, through their own choices, but loss brings ache whether it’s self-inflicted or imposed by others. So we pray, we love, we cry with them.
They’re so much like us, in so many ways. I’m too aware of the wrong to promise anything, but I can pray for their children, all of whom are being raised by someone other than their mother. The collateral damage of drugs and violence is sending piercing shards into the hearts of the children exposed to harder lives than most can imagine.
If May is for mothers, may it be with a mother’s heart that we wrap our arms and lives around our own families and the hearts and lives of others who are so different than us, but yet so much the same. Love is always a mother’s best gift to give. So we open wide our mothering hearts to a world so in need of more love. May this Mother’s Day change all our hearts into something bigger than ourselves.