I am a daughter.
This Mother’s Day (and every one that came before and will come after) I am a daughter.
I am the product of three women (and countless others) who raised, molded and shaped me into the woman I am today. I am the woman these three women gave selflessly for, chose to love when they didn’t have to, and were always proud of, whether I had brilliantly succeeded or foolishly blundered.
I’ve spent many a Mother’s Day reflecting (hurting) on the fact that I’m not a mother. I’ve shied away from church services and celebrations. I’ve drawn the blinds closed and let the day be quiet and introspective and sad. Sometimes tears fell. Sometimes bitterness crept in with unobtrusive silence.
I’m still not a mother. That is the not the path for me.
But I am – always have been – a daughter. And a blessed one, at that.
To the woman who bore me – Boukje – I miss you. Thank you for praying for one last miracle. Thank you for making me the baby, for spoiling me rotten, for pouring unconditional love into my heart and spirit, mirroring the deep and inexplicable love of Jesus. Thank you for never tiring of having me crawl into your lap, of making space for me when anxiety crept in and I needed you. Thank you for the memory of your laughter, the warm softness of your hands, and summers filled with blackberries and canning and the intoxicating aromas of fresh bread and butter. Thank you for letting me crawl into bed with you when I was sick and telling me stories of when you were a child… these memories are carved into my very being. I love you. I miss you. I can’t wait to see you again.
To the woman who stood in the gap when she didn’t have to – Clasina – you amaze me. Thank you for opening your arms and your heart in a way that only you could have done. Thank you for the energy you poured into us, the endless meal preparation that seemed to happen. Thank you for trips to the farmer’s market to teach me about vegetables. Thank you for smacking my elbow off the table during dinner and teaching me some proper manners. Thank you for favouring Alfred… he needed that. He needed to be the favourite, and I’m thankful (in retrospect only, mind you) that you did that for him. Thank you for being so uniquely and beautifully YOU… and for helping me to understand slowly that being yourself is the best you can be. Thank you for instilling in me an abiding sense of hospitality and openness, for modeling Christ-love in the acts of love that flowed freely from you. And thank you for continuing to be part of my life. I love you. I miss living near you. I can’t wait to see you again.
To the woman who chose to love when she didn’t have to – Sandy – I miss you. Thank you for being willing to take on six kids who didn’t realize they needed another mom. Thank you for seeing that I don’t do anything with half my heart (and telling me, so I could see it too). Thank you for your wondrous creative talent, your love of music, your laugh. Thank you for the way you loved Dad, for bringing him incredible joy and healing and delight. Thank you for your insatiable desire to know God and serve him enthusiastically… how often we thought we were teaching you, when really it was opposite. Thank you for your heart of encouragement, your matter-of-fact advice and your gentle scolding. Thank you for seeing me when I didn’t see myself, for challenging me to pray more and worry less. Thank you for understanding my deep love of all things furry. Thank you for wanting God to paint your heavenly rooms a lovely salmon colour. Every time I think of you now, I imagine you singing… voice and body whole and restored. Thank you for walking me into womanhood, for putting up with the miserable wench (understatement) I was for several years there, and for seeing beauty and grace in me when I was quite certain I was empty of any good. I love you. I miss you. I can’t wait to see you again.
I am wife. Caregiver. Sister. Friend. Aunt. Employee.
I was a daughter first, and because I was daughter to these amazing women, I am who I am. Not exclusively (I see you, Papa), and not without also being a continual work in progress. But I am the product of three women who chose to love me when they didn’t have to.
This Mother’s Day, I am grateful. And proud. Crying a little, but laughing too. If I can love half as well as they did, I will consider my life well-lived.