**I wrote this post on May 13, 2012. One year later, I'm amazed at the way God continues to broaden my understanding of what being a mother really means. Grateful for the crazy, unconventional ways in which I've been able to fulfill the role of being a mom to those that have been placed in my life.
My definition of motherhood has changed drastically over the past few years.
Ten years ago, I would have defined it as a woman who birthed or adopted a child and then raised them in their home. A mother would be a primary caregiver- full of love, good cooking, and hugs.
Some of that definition remains true, yet I've realized how much I missed the mark on what true motherhood is.
Motherhood cannot and should not be compartmentalized into a 50's sitcom. It is so much broader and richer than June Cleaver and Mrs. Brady.
I have not birthed or adopted a child. Yet I am a mother.
For five months this past year, we had a 20 year old young man living with us to get on his feet. He needed a place to stay, guidance on his future, stability, and love.
There is another young man in our lives whose mom currently lives 500 miles away. He has no place to stay, so he lives with his girlfriend's family while he finishes high school. He watched his father pass away in front of him a few years ago. He has no family here. He calls my husband and I, "Mom and Dad."
We have a foster baby that has been living in our home the past six months. He is in state custody but we provide his everyday necessities- food, clothing, snuggles, and lots and lots and lots of love.
I did not birth or adopt any of these young men. But they are my sons.
Motherhood has many different faces and each one of them is so significant.
The woman who birthed her children.
The woman who adopted her children.
The woman who chose another family to care for the child she birthed.
The woman who fosters children.
The woman who raises their sister's and brother's children.
The woman who raises her children's children.
The woman who raises her kids as a single parent.
The woman who shares parenting roles because of divorce and remarriage.
The woman who mentors young men and women.
The woman who waits for a child in her heart but not yet in her hands.
The woman who has lost little ones too early.
The woman who spends her weekends loving on kids in the housing projects downtown.
The woman who cares for children at an orphanage somewhere around the world.
The woman who has a child waiting for her in an orphanage across the ocean.
Being a mother does not always include a shared DNA. It is not just about home-cooked meals and bedtime stories.
To be a mother to someone is to impart wisdom, guidance, empathy, compassion, hugs, tears, smiles, laughter, joy, discipline, nurture, and love.
May you never feel inadequate because your reality of "motherhood" looks different. Your story has been designed distinctly and uniquely for YOU.
I pray you feel valued and loved today and everyday, because your role in this world as a mother is significant and desperately needed.
**That teenager, who was living on other people's couches, is now a permanent member of our family. The 6 month-old foster baby is now a giggly, rambuctious 18 month-old who keeps us constantly entertained. A son from across the world joined our family this past January.
Three boys. Only one carries my last name.
I'm a mother to all of them just the same.
Friends, I pray that today, you would be reminded that a legal document or a societal norm is not what determines that you are a mother.
Celebrating all the women in my life who are amazing mothers in extraordinary and unique ways.