In some ways, we’re all mothers

I stop at a grocery store in Yreka, California to buy something for breakfast. At the cash register, the young man ahead of me gasps in relief as he dumps an armload of cantaloupes onto the conveyor belt. The cashier quickly rings them up. $10.70. “Dang,” he says. He only has a wrinkled ten-dollar bill. In the pregnant pause, I whip a dollar bill out of my wallet. “Here,” I say. The checker takes it, gives me 30 cents change. The kid mumbles “thanks” and moves on. The checker also says, “Thanks.” I feel like a mom, quickly seeing the problem and jumping in to help. Who’s to know I’m not a mother, that my kids don’t go to school with this kid? I walk out feeling happy.
Speaking of kids with problems, I just finished reading Debra Gwartney’s Live Through This. It’s the painful story of how her two oldest daughters became more and more out of control. Drugs, suicide attempts and nights when they didn’t come home led to their running way and living on the streets for long periods of time while their mom went crazy trying to find them, hoping they weren’t dead. I would hope that any of us, mothers or not, would do what we can to help any kid in trouble. As women, I think we’re all mothers at large. When we can, we should help, whether it’s a runaway who needs something to eat or a teenager who’s short 70 cents at the grocery store.

Can you think of times you have acted as a mother for someone else’s child?

3 thoughts on “In some ways, we’re all mothers

  1. Ahh, but compassionate mothering is not the same is it? Things I mourn that compassionate mothering will never replace: being called mom, seeing my child laugh, holding a baby that is mine close to my heart, seeing my husband smile with love and pride at his son, nurturing a life through good times and bad,never knowing if our child will look like us or have our mannerisms, the joy of watching our parents becoming grandparents, hearing the small patter of feet on wood floors, and most of all, the promise of what could have been. Yes, compassionate mothering is a gift that we should give freely but I don't think it will make up for all that I mourn. My hope for me is to find peace and joy in what is mine, not in mourning what isn't mine.


  2. Anonymous,
    I so agree that it's not the same. Just yesterday, I was crying because I would so love to be holding a grandchild right about now. The list of things we miss never ends. I'm just saying there are moments when we can use our mother energy and that feels good.


  3. There is a certain type of women I find really hard to get along with. They are mothers who are “mothering” everyone who gets in their way and treat grown-ups like children. And not in a nice way. They think they are always right, are really overpowering, taking control of everything whether it is necessary or not. At the same time showing between the lines how hard they work for everybody else and how little appreciation they get… I specially fear them as volunteers in youth work, which is my line of work – I am the professional there, and excuse me, I DO know better :-). Sometimes I think the biggest advantage of not having children is that I will not turn into one of those women.


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