How do you Honour a Mother that isn’t Mothering?


I woke up this morning and went into his room. There he is! Wide eyed, big smile, eager to start the day. He calls out “Mumma! Stinky’” as my nose adjusts to the stench that fills the room.

I can not help but wonder on a day that is made to thank Mother’s if the woman who gave him life has realised what day it is.

Sometimes my heart breaks for her. Sometimes I’m angry at her. 

And while I try not to judge because my feet have not walked in her shoes, it can be difficult to comprehend what could possibly lead to such a breakdown that a child and his mother should not be together. How do you honour a mother that isn’t mothering?

It’s a question that I have pondered in the lead up to this Mother’s Day, as I am forever intimately linked to two mothers that I know very little about, besides some of their hardest moments that have created something so beautiful. For nearly 50 000 Australian children, Mother’s Day is an awkward reminder of the interrupted lives that they have lived. It is a complicated web of emotions as children, foster families and biological families celebrate and commiserate the role of ‘mum’.

Foster Care is temporary care. I want a stranger to be his Mum. Not just his bio Mum, or birth Mum, but his everyday, nothing special Mum that doesn’t miss all the moments.

I don’t know how to help this woman, I don’t even know her outside of all the bad decisions I have read or been told about that have brought us both to this place, but I will love her son for however long I need to. And I pray that my love will be enough for him today and that in one of his tomorrow’s she will be there in every way.

But if she can not, I am thankful that the role of Mum is not defined as one person. For after a decade in Foster Care I have come to realise that a mum is whoever a child recognises as the person that will stand up to love, provide and protect them. I think of Naomi and Ruth. That Ruth could say to another woman, ‘Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god’ (Ruth 1:16-17). 

A mum is a part of creating and carrying another human.

A mum goes through hours of Labour and pain to birth a child.

A mum feeds and comforts a baby.

A mum wakes up to address the needs of a child.

A mum dresses, feeds and looks for opportunities to learn.

A mum teaches, disciplines and dotes on the children in her home.

So this Mother’s Day, as I adorn myself in macaroni and straw made necklaces. And feast on the generous hugs and kisses my 6 little ones dish out for ‘my’ day. I will honour out loud and through my actions the ones who have been ‘mum’ before me and who will forever hold the title even though I hold their child. I hope that one day we will all be able to make sense of the web of emotions and reconcile all that has been gained and lost, but until then, I am forever grateful for the best part of themselves that I love and hold.

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