Happy Mother’s Day to the young and beautiful Syrian mother who was having coffee with a reporter one morning in Turkey before her planned trip to Greece to hopefully join her children in Belgium who had left before her. Why did her family leave Syria taking such dangerous route through the sea? For the children’s future, she explained, for the children! Tragically, her boat capsized a few weeks after the meeting with the reporter in the coffee shop. She couldn’t swim and never reached shore.
Happy Mother’s Day to the hard working mothers who do not get to play the daily mother roles to their children living apart, across continents. Their sweat and tears nourish the children who, as they grow up, never get to be cradled in their mothers’ arms.
Happy Mother’s Day to a patient who’s on chemotherapy for her last stage of ovarian cancer, while her tiny baby is growing inside of her. She chose not to take all the chemo medications she needs to prolong her life, but only the one which might not hurt her baby. Should she have terminated her pregnancy so she could have taken full advantage of the optimal treatments to save her own life? Whose life is more important, whose should be saved? Like a typical mother, she chose the route which would benefit her baby more, even if it will mean her life will end even sooner.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers who have postponed living their lives on their children’s behalf, who see their hard work to nurture their children as a privilege and not a sacrifice. Postponing their hobbies, their exercise, their health checkups, their mental breaks? We are not postponing our life, they would say, we are living our lives as all mothers should.
To those of us who have experienced motherly love, we will always yearn for that protection, to be cradled in the security of a selfless love, as Maya Angelou so beautifully expressed in her poem “Mother, a Cradle to Hold Me.”
Mother, A Cradle to Hold Me
It is true
I was created in you.
It is also true
That you were created for me.
I owned your voice.
It was shaped and tuned to soothe me.
Your arms were molded
Into a cradle to hold me, to rock me.
The scent of your body was the air
Perfumed for me to breathe.
During those early, dearest days
I did not dream that you had
A large life which included me,
For I had a life
Which was only you.
Time passed steadily and drew us apart.
I was unwilling.
I feared if I let you go
You would leave me eternally.
You smiled at my fears, saying
I could not stay in your lap forever.
That one day you would have to stand
And where would I be?
You smiled again.
I did not.
Without warning you left me,
But you returned immediately.
You left again and returned,
I admit, quickly,
But relief did not rest with me easily.
You left again, but again returned.
You left again, but again returned.
Each time you reentered my world
You brought assurance.
Slowly I gained confidence.
You thought you knew me,
But I did know you,
You thought you were watching me,
But I did hold you securely in my sight,
Recording every moment,
Memorizing your smiles, tracing your frowns.
In your absence
I rehearsed you,
The way you had of singing
On a breeze,
While a sob lay
At the root of your song.
The way you posed your head
So that the light could caress your face
When you put your fingers on my hand
And your hand on my arm,
I was blessed with a sense of health,
Of strength and very good fortune.
You were always
the heart of happiness to me,
Bringing nougats of glee,
Sweets of open laughter.
I loved you even during the years
When you knew nothing
And I knew everything, I loved you still.
Condescendingly of course,
From my high perch
Of teenage wisdom.
I spoke sharply of you, often
Because you were slow to understand.
I grew older and
Was stunned to find
How much knowledge you had gleaned.
And so quickly.
Mother, I have learned enough now
To know I have learned nearly nothing.
On this day
When mothers are being honored,
Let me thank you
That my selfishness, ignorance, and mockery
Did not bring you to
Discard me like a broken doll
Which had lost its favor.
I thank you that
You still find something in me
To cherish, to admire and to love.
I thank you, Mother.
I love you
— Maya Angelou
Happy Mother’s Day to you!