On Mother's Day four years ago, I had the honor of getting up in front of my church and sharing this story about a husband and wife who fell in love with a child and changed their whole lives so they could bring him home.
This Mother's Day, I find myself again in a church, singing worship songs with a band and my eight year old daughter. Growing up, my Dad and I sang together all the time, with my mom in the front row cheering us on and taking pictures. Now I'm the grown up, singing with my daughter in public for the first time while my husband takes pictures from the front row. It feels like some kind of full circle coming home of my child self, my grown up self, my daughter, and her future self.
I look out at the faces and I welcome everyone to this sacred space. I say "Happy Mother's Day. I want to acknowledge that for many of us, this can be a hard day. That for some, it might have taken all your willpower to walk in the door." I look out at the faces and I know the truth that every time we gather, there is a joy body present and there is equally a pain body present in the room.
"I know some in this room have recently lost a mother. I know for some, your relationship with your mom is the most difficult relationship of your life, fraught with misunderstanding. There are some in this room who long to have a child. There are some who have lost a child. There are some who call themselves mother, and yet that naming feels like a heavy burden, a guilt-ridden guarantee that you will never measure up."
I say, "Mother is not a biological designation; it is a position of the heart."
I look over at my daughter standing next to me on stage. She has on the same bell bottom pants with the ripped knee that she wears every single day. Her favorite t-shirt that says "Free to be me." The blue and white polka-dot hoodie that looks dirty no matter how many times I wash it. When my husband asked her to wear something different today, she told him she needed to wear what she wanted because then she could be herself.
"Mother's Day is also a day when the little children remind us how to be who we are. It's a day when we are invited to remember that all of us is good- the pain, the anger, the joy, the doubt, the delight."
"That whenever you choose to be with all the parts of you, this is the spirit of mother."
My daughter is smiling and bouncing from one foot to the other, just being herself. She's not up here to prove anything. She doesn't care if people like her or not. She's here to sing because she likes to sing, and she does what she likes.
"Let the little children lead us," I say.
"When you offer yourself love, this is mother. When you practice self-acceptance, this is mother. When you honor the urge in you to grow things, to nurture, to bring beauty, to breathe life, to sing your song, this is mother. When you bring all the parts of you back home, this is mother."
"Find that place inside of you where you can be with yourself, without squeezing too hard or retreating too far, the place where you bend, where you stretch, where you abide with all of it. This is the mother place. This is what we offer each other, and this is what we honor on this day."
"We're opening with a song called Brother. The chorus goes, 'When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother.' When you sing this line, I want to invite you to acknowledge all the things you feel, all the things this day represents, all the parts of you that make you uncomfy, and and instead of calling them enemy, call them Brother. Invite them home. Tell them they get to be with you because they are part of you, and you are good.
"All of you is worthy of love. This is the heart of mother."
The band starts to play. We get to the chorus, and my daughter and I belt it out: "When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother. I see my sister. I see my father. I see my mother."
I see my mother.