This is For the Woman

This is for the woman who measured the cost and made the soul-wrestling decision to stay so her kids could grow up in an intact family.

This is for the woman who worked when everyone else went home and took on the extra hours and didn't take a sick day so her kids could have a Christmas.

This is for the woman who is scared her childbearing time is ticking away, who worries that the right partner and the right time and the right circumstances have passed her by.

This is for the woman who fought against the demon-hot breath of hell so that her kids could have a mom free from the chains of addiction.

This is for the woman who opened the tender spaces of her heart to a child not her own, who chose to mother when another mother couldn't.

This is for the woman who waits until the quiet stillness of night and weeps and wonders if the parenting road she's taken has been all wrong; who wonders if she has done enough or failed too much.

This is for the woman who stands over the long-lashed, sleep-flushed face of her toddler and carries the guilt-joy mix of the day: How she could love him to her depths and yet want nothing more than an hour away from him so often.

This is for the woman who counts the days on the calendar until she can take another pregnancy test. And she waits. And she is afraid to hope again.

This is for the woman whose once-busy days are too slow, whose once-full arms now hold nothing but memories.

This is for the woman who is afraid to admit she has never wanted children, who holds back and hides her true heart, hoping to escape the judgment-filled murmurs of the mob.

This is for the woman who nurtures and mothers her students, whose own wallet is emptied so that their classroom bins can be filled.

This is for the woman each of us is today, the woman we have once been, the woman we may be tomorrow. The woman who, in all of her failures and wonderings and fears, is worth celebrating. Not one of us is on the mothering path we once assumed we'd travel: The joys are deeper and the hurts are more complex than we could have imagined. Yet today, in whatever form our mothering has taken, we join hands and honor each other, whether we are in a hard place or a peaceful place or an unsure place or a quiet place along the way.

Happy Mother's Day.