It’s no secret that Mother’s Day can be stressful for many people. For me, it was watching my mother-in-law, a woman who had a hand in raising me in my teen years and stayed by my side despite our very strange, yet functional-to-mental-illness relationship, deteriorate for nearly three years with ALS and then have two celebratory days without her. It was having my biological mother five states away for the last four years. I’ve been blessed with many mother-types over the years, but I would like to acknowledge one I have never written about before.
April is my MIL’s best friend. I met her when I was in my teen years, but have few memories of her then, other than she didn’t bat an eye when I took her BFF’s son by storm with a face-full of piercings and no self-awareness of modesty. Fast-forward five years, and I meet her again when I drop our son off at my husband’s first wife’s wedding reception, and she is the only person in a crowd who doesn’t judge me or treat me like a pariah. I remember that moment I felt a security and affirmation from a person I hadn’t known before.
Fast-forward five more years. I see April again when said husband and I are in nasty divorces, worlds are collapsing and colliding, all rules destroyed, and nothing makes sense. I am not the new girl; I am the original and only girl. I knew that she knew that I was the only girl. I remember when I knew I loved her for the first time was when I saw how deeply she saw my The Mother’s pain and did all the right things. She took her away. She gave her days and years of laughing. She breathed hope and future into a woman who I had personally seen beat down in all the ways women are our entire life.
April is a sin-eater. April is the Maia we all know in the fringes of our dreams and never look at in the eye. April is every vertebra in a fragile skeleton with one collapsing day after another. April is the arms that surround, the feet that pursue, the tears that find a place where no room was found in an inn. April is the door that always stays open.
April is a mother.
When I realized April was my mother was when I was 29-years-old, and she was happy I was with her surrogate son. When April came to my house the day our daughter, my sixth child, was born at home after a very difficult, 9-hour homebirth and cradled a hurricane she loved just because my The Mother loved, I knew. She has been Juno Valentine’s fairy godmother since the day she was born. My best friend is her godmother on my end (so K, do not scowly face butthurt pouty face at me), but for my husband’s side, there was no one else. April will be my daughter’s angel forever.
April has no biological children, but I do not feel that I am biologically separated from her. There is something that makes a woman a mother, and it isn’t genetics. It’s the willingness to serve, to be selfless. To be strong, to make decisions. To intuit, to despair, and weep as if the world has ended in a day and rise, always rise.
I have so many memories of my The Mother, my MIL. I have pictures that fill my walls, cheekbones and eyes in two of my children, a husband trained to respect and treat women the way God intended—in awe—to remind me of her. We are powerful. We create and carry life. We have wombs formed for magic no man can ever understand.
But, there are wombs in the shadows that have carried life which biology will, and can never, understand. Some wombs have born life and death, have surrogated sorrow and joy and continued on days when Will alone has negated to offer an olive branch. April has a womb such as this, where the final hours before birth aren’t in blood, sweat, and sleep, but in eyes that see years, hearts that sing the symphonies of war, and bodies that collapse because they’ve just given all.
April is my mother.