M is for Mother’s Day – by Nancy Ling

Nancy Ling is an Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.  Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

Somehow it seems fitting that my debut article for the Norwood Transcript falls around Mother’s Day. While some folks love the treats and tricks of Halloween or the long stem roses of Valentine’s Day, I’d trade them all for a simple homemade card on Mother’s Day.

Like many of you I feel a special something for all the wonderful mothers out there. My hat goes off to them: working moms, stay-at-home moms, retired moms, adopted moms, foster moms,  two- in-the-morning-wake-up-moms. Still I have a special place in my heart for the woman who is often forgotten this time of year—the not-yet mother. It’s during those waiting years that the not-yet mother wonders if her deepest desire will ever be fulfilled.

I’ll never forget the despondency a woman may feel when faced with a future without children. For five years I was that not-yet mother and Mother’s Day was one of the hardest holidays to endure. It became one of those dreaded Sundays when I felt surrounded by beaming parents who couldn’t relate to a childless couple. There was one Mother’s Day that stands out, however.

Fearing the typical church service paying homage to motherhood, while at the same time overwhelmed with guilt for such resentment, I hunkered down in the pew next to my husband.    I knew what was coming.

That’s when Reverend Robert Davidson began preaching about Hannah—another not-yet mother. I was shocked. Someone had actually noticed my pain, and that someone had put aside the needs of the majority for the needs of one.  It was as if a floodgate had been opened. My situation wasn’t new. There were women centuries ago who’d also endured the same.

It is sometimes in the darkest moments of life that rebirth comes. I had always loved to write, but suddenly I found a new voice. I didn’t have the energy for short stories or novels, but poetry poured from my soul. Writing became healing. While there was much I couldn’t control, I could write. My thoughts. The pen. The paper. Those were under my influence. I was so consumed with writing that before I knew it I had two births…one to a beautiful baby girl, the other to my first collection of poetry: Laughter in My Tent.

Peggy Orenstein can relate. In her memoir, Waiting for Daisy, she poignantly addresses the topic of infertility. Orenstein’s subtitle says it all: “A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, and Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman’s Quest to Become a Mother.” That title alone beckoned me to read this true to life love story. At times humorous and wrenching, Orenstein takes her readers through the courageous account of her journey to motherhood.

And no, after this long wait, none of us becomes perfect mothers. But hopefully, we become appreciative ones. There are things we’ll never forget:  first steps, first teeth, first silly giggles at the water swirling down the drain, or bubbles in the sand box. Through a collection of essays Because I Love Her highlights the bond between mothers and daughters. These personal stories reveal life lessons imparted by mothers. One of my favorite essays is by Katherine Center. Entitled “Things to Remember Not to Forget.” These first lines will give you a taste of her humorous voice: “At our house, for our kids, who are two and five, everything is better with a big side order of Naked. Jumping on the bed is good, but Naked Jumping is better. Hiding in the closet is good, but Naked Hiding is better….The only thing, in fact, that’s not better naked is bathing, which is far better done with socks on.”

It’s a happy mother who embraces a sock bath. Eww. I believe pediatrician Meg Meeker, M.D., would approve. In her book The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers, Meeker encourages mothers to reclaim their passion, purpose and sanity. Is that possible? By the end of the book, you’ll be a believer too. As my wise Uncle Norman used to say, a habit is hard to break. If you take away the “H,” you still have “a bit.” Take away the “A,” you still have a “bit.” All the way down to the “it.” But Meeker delves into habits that are worth keeping.  From faith to solitude, friendship to finance, Meeker shares practical steps to becoming a fulfilled mother.

And for all of those mothers who are able to find pockets of solitude, how about a light mystery? Mother’s Day Murder (a Lucy Stone mystery), by Leslie Meier, might be just the right read to keep in your back pocket. According to Library Journal Review, “Small-town life in Maine should be quiet and safe, but feuding families, high-school bullying, and the murder of a missing 16-year-old girl makes Tinker’s Cove residents overprotective of their children and suspicious of one other. Another murder places Lucy Stone, part-time reporter and mother of four, in the thick of things.”

As for me, I’ll be reading The Night Before Mother’s Day, by Natasha Wing, to my two daughters. You’re never too old for picture books, right? In this sweet story, a mother finds all she needs for a perfect holiday right at home: a homemade cake, a homemade spa treatment and lots of love. That is, after all, what I’m wishing for all the moms and future moms out there…a chance to stop, pause and embrace those moments in life worth treasuring. Happy Mother’s Day!

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