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Originally published May 11, 2013 at 12:09 AM | Page modified May 11, 2013 at 9:27 AM

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A day to honor mothers — and other mothers, too

As we reflect on motherhood and those who gave us life, we also can remember the other mothers — those others who’ve mothered us along the way, sometimes in situations our birth mothers never know about.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Faith & Values

Mother’s Day is one of the most important days on the church calendar. While it is not an official holy day, in many churches its significance is just behind Christmas and Easter. Some make their annual visit to church on Mother’s Day and bring corsages to honor the women they love. After church, the celebration continues with brunch or dinner with the family.

Mother’s Day is a day to reflect on those who gave us life. Giving birth is not easy, whether it is birth to an idea, a movement or a child. We thank those women who endured life challenges and physical pain so that we could be present today.

There is nothing like a mother’s love. Mothers are fierce, compassionate, ingenious and creative all at the same time. Mothers heal boo boos and broken hearts. They go the second mile and are not afraid to laugh and cry in order to keep their sanity. And the economic stress mothers endure to provide shelter, food, clothing and entertainment is nothing short of heroic.

On Mother’s Day we also thank those women who did not give birth to us, but certainly mothered us and stood in the gap for us. Our other mothers, as I like to refer to them, saved us from situations our birth mothers may never know about. We may have entrusted our other mothers with secrets too personal to share with the one who gave us birth. Our other mothers were our aunts, neighbors, teachers, coaches and librarians. Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community of mothers to raise a healthy child.

Mother’s Day is a great day to honor the women in our lives, yet some activities border on womb worship. I wonder, what is the point when churches give awards to the woman with the most children or grandchildren? I have heard that Mother’s Day is one of the most painful 24 hours for women who want to be mothers but are unable to because of physical challenges or other life circumstances. I am sure the initiator of this day of honor did not intend Mother’s Day to be a day of sorrow for so many.

It is also a painful day for those mothers who have lost children. An extra hug is in order for those women whose sons and daughters preceded them in death. Parents expect that they will pass from this life before their children. When that assumed natural order is turned upside down, Mother’s Day is endured instead of celebrated.

Mothers are not perfect. Mother’s Day can be painful for those whose mothers were absent, mean or abusive. I like to think it is never too late to have a happy childhood. Life has its challenges and is exceedingly unfair for many. So we cherish the love, comfort and safety our mothers provided, and we forgive the words and actions that hurt us.

We do not have to forget, but we do have to forgive so we can move on with our lives. Living in the folds of old wounds does not allow us to fully see and experience the gifts of today.

If you are lucky enough to have the Norman Rockwell family gathering on Mother’s Day, know you are immensely blessed. Cherish every moment, for as time moves on, traditions, rituals and people change. If you are a mother, you may not get the phone call or visit you are expecting. This year, a chai latte and cinnamon scone may have to suffice for breakfast in bed. Whatever the day brings, be proud of your contribution to making this world a better place.

To all the mothers, aunts, best girlfriends and other mothers, we celebrate and honor you today. Happy Mother’s Day.

The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter is an associate in ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church and senior benefits consultant for

American Baptist Churches in the USA. Readers may send feedback to faithcolumns@seattletimes.com

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About Faith & Values

The Rev. Patrick Howell, S.J., is vice president for mission and ministry at Seattle University.

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