We’ve lost a sister. My friend Allison, who was diagnosed in winter, died on Tuesday. Her littlest is not yet out of elementary school.
She was quiet and tenacious and brave. Our friends gathered last night, held our hearts, and remembered Allison. It was her birthday. We were reflecting on her birth and death and wondered, how could we best honor her life in between? Her traits. Her strengths. The words that describe Allison.
But they are also words to describe you.
And me. And all of our sisters. Not identically. Not exactly. But there are pieces of Allison in each of us. The DNA of motherhood. Maybe you are quieter. Maybe your neighbor carries her stick-to-it-iveness gene to an extreme. Maybe your college roommate holds up her faith.
How can we carry her forward? We can begin on Sunday. On Mother’s Day. We each celebrate in our own way- if you have a toddler, you may be celebrating by going to the bathroom all by yourself. If you have a chatty preschooler, you may celebrate with an hour of silence. And if you have a teenager, it may mean getting them to hang out with you for an hour is something serious to celebrate.
Do what you need to do for yourself, Mama. Discover a way to ground yourself, reorient yourself. Find yourself.
Then find yourself in every Mama. Setting aside our voting records, our faith communities, our educations, our zip codes. Because it is easy to make assumptions about other Mamas. To judge them and to gossip about them.
Let’s not. Let’s be Allisons instead.
In the days ahead let’s reach out to the Mamas we know and the Mamas we see. The Mama who is too tired, too worn out, too worn down. The Mama who can’t imagine being a mother for one moment more, and yet does it anyway, because stopping isn’t an option. We’ve seen those Mamas. We’ve been those Mamas.
When we see a Mama struggling, looking even just a little bit lost, let’s reach out instead of stepping back. Let’s offer to carry her groceries to the car. Provide a smile of knowing as she stands next to a toddler who has melted onto the floor. Have a spontaneous sleepover for the friend of your tween so her Mama can breathe. And let’s reach out to the Mamas whose lives look perfect. Because none of us are. And sometimes we are hiding behind façades that we’ve carefully constructed and forgotten to leave ourselves a way out. And let’s reach out for ourselves, because sometimes we are the ones who need help.
Mamahood isn’t always graceful. Mamahood isn’t always filled with song. But most of all, Mamahood shouldn’t be filled with isolation. Remember that Allison is in you. When Mamahood is chaotic, call on her quiet. When Mamahood is draining, call on her tenaciousness. When Mamahood is overwhelming, bring forth her bravery.
On Tuesday we lost a Mama. One of our own. But there are billions more of us. Just think what we can do. So reach. Touch. Connect. And keep me posted.