For All the Ways Mother’s Day is Complicated: Tribe of Mothers


am the mother of my daughter whose first mother I’ve never met.

My daughter moved inside the womb of a woman I wouldn’t know if I passed her on the street. And before my heart wrapped around my daughter’s, her heart had beat for nine months under the rhythm of another woman’s heart, a woman who made space within herself to grow this miracle I now get to behold.

When your story comes from a long line of women — how do you make the lines of your story write a love story back to them?

How do you kiss the shoulders on which you stand?

How do you embrace all the women who come behind you who are now lodged like all this light in your heart?






My aunt never held a child of her own. But on one of my darkest days, when I was fighting a plan to end all the pain I didn’t know how to stop — I had texted her. And she saved my life, she gave me life.

You don’t have to birth someone to birth hope into someone.

Any woman
who has grown a soul within her,
or has grown space in her life
for a soul to keep on growing,
Is a mother.

When you’re a fountain of love, your offspring is everywhere & you’re mothering and watering souls wherever you go.

When I hear Dolly Parton crooning out a tune on some kids’ playlist yesterday, I dance around like my tiny Grand Ruth used to do, crooking my neck to my shoulder just like she used to as she shimmied to country western refrains, and I can still hear her humming and the creaking of her knees.

How can her old tapestry purse still be here in a closet, but she’s no longer here? Missing her is a way of not missing out on her now.

Even after our mothers go home to our Father, their love still mothers us.

I hear my 21 year old daughter tell her father yesterday, “You know what I just noticed? I have the same dimples as Grandma Voskamp had. Dimples. Both cheeks. Just the same as her.”

The Farmer smiles, stilling holding the phone in his hand from talking to our 23 yr old son who recites chapters by memory of Ephesians every night to his dad. On a top bookshelf in the study, up above the old hymnals, are all of Grandma Voskamp’s dog-earred, underlined and dated Bible Memory Association booklets, James, Colossians, 1 John, Philippians, a stack.

Grandma Voskamp has been gone to glory now, singing with the heavenly host for the last 13 years. Her dimples smile on in her granddaughter, her legacy of memorizing the Word carries on in her grandson.

Every mother can be a star, her light going on and on and on.

Every woman can be a wave whose love kisses the ragged edge of things time and again, even after time’s rolled on.

Every woman can a torch that passes on a legacy that never passes away.

My own white crowned mama, whose frail heart beats with lionhearted love, she sews masks for us all in these strange days, every day letting me unmask my heart when I call her, and she still holds my exposed fears with a gentle wisdom she’s told me a thousand times if she’s told me once, “It’s not that you aren’t going to blow it, it’s what you do with it afterward.”

And who doesn’t ache in these strange days to gather up all kinds of our kind mothers, their real sacrifice strengthening our arms for these days, their enduring courage strengthening our backs for this journey,
their singular love still coursing through us,
still carrying us through all the days.

When I set out a bouquet of wild daffodils in my mama’s vase this weekend, when a kid here raises the volume of a tune my Grandmother danced to, when our youngest daughter, born in another country to another mother, raises up on her tiptoes to grab my neck and pull me close to whisper in her little lispy voice, “My heart is tied to yours always and forever, no matter what, Mama,” — something in me rises, and there it is:

May we all rise for our long tribe of mothers:

May we honour our brave tribe of mothers,
may we reach out as a true tribe of mothers,
and may we raise up a kind tribe of mothers,
so every man, woman, and child feel how they belong
to the forever kin
of our Father.



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What you really want most this Mother’s Day

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