"Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother." — Oprah Winfrey
Mother's Day is the celebration of the wahine that gave us life. But I think that what makes a mother is more nuanced than that. As a Mum who didn't give birth to my child, I'm very aware that a simple day can feel very complicated. A mother fills a parental role, and sometimes that isn't the person who brought you into the world. It doesn't make these people any less meaningful to our lives; it just makes it a bit tricky to understand from the outside.
I used to dread Mother's Day. I never felt like I belonged in the category that I'd grown up seeing. I'd never seen a step-parent who was filling the role of Mum before, and it's hard to find your own identity within a role that doesn't exist. It took me years to build my confidence and call myself a Mum, but I think my distinction is that my daughter has both a Mother and a Mum. Her mother gave birth to her, and a few years later, I was passed the baton to become her Mum.
It doesn't matter what we're called; what we do is what counts. So this year, I implore you to look outside your own family and give some love to the Mums who might not get recognition. Perhaps that means giving some flowers to your friend who is missing their Mum this year. Or maybe it's baking some biscuits for your neighbour who supports you and your kids so you can be an amazing Mum. Dropping by to a friend who has lost their child can also be a really powerful act of love. We can sometimes forget that women who have miscarried will also always be mothers. Some of us are also on the difficult journey of trying to become mothers and have a hard time on Mother's Day too. The possible scenarios of what other people are going through are varied and endless.
Being a mum comes in all shapes and sizes, sometimes ones that we don't even recognise ourselves. But taking the time to understand can grant us some empathy for how other people may be feeling. Thinking outside our own experiences helps us spread even more love on these types of days. And who couldn't do with more love and understanding in their lives?