I am watching.
I listen and I learn. I give and grow and watch you do the same.
I am not yet a mother, but I am paying attention.
She rises early for just a few moments of silence. The powdered remains of Cheerios have created a thin film over the breakfast table. My boss scurries and shuttles and spends countless hours in the pick-up line. She tells it like it is and still finds the glorious in the mess of it all. She is real and honest, refusing to sugarcoat the hard places while making sure to give equal time to the beautiful moments, too. She is not my mother, but she mothers me through her honest portrayal of what it looks like to live a life you never dreamed about, only to find yourself falling in love with the unexpected.
There’s a woman younger than me who shines so brightly that sometimes I just stop and stare. I mentor her but I want to be like her when I grow up. She’s humble and laughs a lot, the deep and full kind of laughter that quickly spreads across a room. She is kind and thoughtful, following up days later on words I mention in passing. She isn’t ashamed and is one of those people who actually lives out the words that escape her lips. She mothers me through her endless pursuit of joy-seeking and freedom-finding.
My own mentor calls for me. There are countless people rushing to and fro, hurrying through the outdoor plaza. Others are lazing around or sitting on the smooth wooden benches, soaking in the warmth of both sunshine and conversation. The sun is shining in my eyes and I can barely see my hand in front of my face, but I hear a familiar voice calling out my full name and I turn, a smile already spreading across my face. She takes the time to pause, sitting down and pouring out wisdom. She mothers me as she carefully listens to my words and offers me some of her own.
My childhood best friend has walked the pages of the story of my life. More than simply reading along or standing on the sidelines, she has chosen to enter in. She sits in the mess and laughs at my jokes. She reminds me of what is true and easily finishes every sentence that begins with “Hey, remember when…?” She mothers me by showing up for every moment, whether big or small or somewhere in between.
A woman in my small group comforts me with her presence. Twenty minutes into the service, tears are rolling down so fast and furious that my forearms are wet from trying to hide the fountain that has become my eyes. My favorite mint jeans are splotchy and you could play connect the dots from the tears that have soaked through. As I struggle for breath I feel hands gently pulling back my hair and an arm slipping around my shoulders. I look up and see her eyes staring back into mine. My tears are mirrored in hers and as she quietly whispers, “can I pray for you?” I nod yes and breathe relief. She pulls me into herself and I hang on as she echoes what I had been praying just seconds earlier. She mothers me by meeting me in my mess.
My own mother would give anything to help someone else, whether she knows them or not. She’ll wake up at the crack of dawn to check things off of someone else’s to-do list and she won’t tell a soul. I’ve watched her give when nothing was asked for and make time for what’s important to me when there are one hundred other things she could be doing. She’s funny and a little bit sassy and even though multiple states separate us, words slip out of my mouth and then my hand flies up against my lips as I realize I’ve started to become this woman, my mother, and I’m perfectly okay with that.
Each of these women have poured out and poured in, through the thick and thin of smiling joy or tears falling. They stick up and listen close and speak truth loud. They are running their own races but they never fail to cheer me on or pick me up when I’m not sure I can go another lap.
There don’t wear capes, have sidekicks, or drive fancy cars. From the outside looking in, they are just a handful of women who sing my song back to me when I’ve forgotten how to raise my voice. But they have loved me much and loved me well and one day I want to be just like them. These are my heroes. They have mothered me by building into my life.
One day, I dream of being a mother. These women have taught me that I don’t have to wait for one day.
And so I am paying attention.
Written two days after my book released in February, these are the words I stood up and shared on a stage last Thursday (I tend to share more ‘life as it’s happening’ over on Insta, so here’s the announcement). Listen To Your Mother came to Birmingham for the first time and although I’m not a mother, this is my way of honoring many of those who have mothered me, in one way or another. It is my hope that those who have mothered you will find these words and feel seen, appreciated, and cherished.