“We are born of love; love is our mother.” – Rumi
Standing right next to our big wooden swing in the backyard I watched as F slowly rocked back and forth, her head hanging down in sadness. She had been sitting with these feelings for a while now after saying goodbye to her mom early that morning. Like all the other mornings before, this one had been hard and I could feel that sadness still weighing down on her.
Seeing her in that moment it was hard not to feel drawn to her, the strings of my heart pulling me closer and closer until I was right there leaning in, asking about all the emotions moving through her in that moment. With tears in her eyes she looked up at me and opened up about how much she missed her grandma and how sad she was that she wasn’t at her house.
Remembering what her mom and dad had told me about the time she spent with her grandma before coming to school with us, my own memories came flooding back reminding me of a time when I am sure I would have felt the same. Seeing a connection that the two of us shared, I told her about my own grandma and the special moments we had on a swing very similar to the one she was rocking on now.
Her eyes now shining through her tears, a small smile appeared as she shared with me that her and her grandma would sit together on a swing like that too. Together the two of reminisced about our grandmas and the way they would help us sleep by tickling our backs, how they would sing us songs and tell us stories, and how much love we felt from them when our moms were not around to give theirs. Together the two of us bonded over the love that we shared for people we knew who weren’t our mothers but who cared for and loved us as though they were.
Looking back on this moment a couple years later and thinking about all the other people I know who share stories similar to ours, I realize how special relationships like these are to children and the adults they will later become. For me this love that I got not just from my grandma but so many other incredible “motherly figures” in my life (including my actual mother) is what helped me to feel confident in myself and my dreams; what gave me strength when things in my life felt hard, and what inspired me to be a more loving person myself. Having those incredible people in my life is what made me who I am today and for that I am forever grateful.
So when you think about the people to celebrate on days like today, remember its not just the ones who share your DNA that deserve that appreciation but all the people who inspired you, who shaped you, who guided you, and who loved you. Because being a mother, father, etc. doesn’t necessarily mean sharing blood. It means making memories, doing things to show you care and being someone people can count on. It is through those deeper relationships with the people in our lives that our image of mothers, fathers, etc. are opened to mean so much more. Having those relationships is what helps us grow into people who are able to give that same kind of love ourselves. The kind of love that creates more adults like ones that inspired and guided us.