A stomach bug swept our little abode this week. Shawn’s illness was a couple of days ahead of mine, so by the time he was feeling well enough to go visit his mama for Mother’s Day, I was still living on the BRAT diet and needing rest.

After Shawn left, though, I had a simple breakfast and was feeling well enough to take a short walk to the pond and back. En route, I was passed by a friendly jogger, who smiled and said, ‘Hi! Happy Mother’s Day!’ and I smiled. I didn’t think much of this friendly stranger’s gesture. She doesn’t know that I’m not a mother, I thought to myself.

And then another thought arose to push back on that one: Hey, I’m ‘kind of’ a mother.

While it is true that I’ve made the choice thus far to not birth new humans into the world, I’ve been lucky enough to engage in mothering practices and instincts in my life – for the kids I babysat as a teenager; the three families for whom I nannied in my 20s; at the daycare center where I worked in the early 2000s; in my six years as the children’s librarian for the town of Naples, Maine; in my nearly decade-long stint as an assistant at a dance studio. I have worked a lot with young children in my life, and I have enjoyed every moment of that work.

The capacity to give and love unconditionally – isn’t that the hope of every mother, every parent, to be able to do just that?

Long-time readers of this blog, as well as those who pay close attention to my song lyrics, will remember and know that my troubled relationship with my own mother and our eventual estrangement have been the source of much pain and grief, and also the inspiration for much self-reflection and growth. While it’s true that neither she nor I were able to find that place of unconditional love for both ourselves and each other when she was still alive, I like to believe that I’ve developed that muscle of mine in the years since her passing – and largely because of the wisdom that comes with aging; you know, that ‘hindsight is 20/20’ thing.

I suppose that I’ll always be ‘kind of’ a mother – to my songs and writing, in the memories of those kids (most of them now adults!) whose lives I have touched.

Every one us, regardless of our sex or gender, has that boundless capacity to be a nurturer, an unconditional lover, and an unflinching supporter of the lives around us. So, to every single one of us, Happy Mother’s Day – which really should be every day, huh?