At fourteen, my mother died from cancer. Her death represents the great divide in my life between childhood and womanhood. My grieving father was incapable of taking care of my six younger siblings, so, for them, I became a substitute mother for a brief time while my father tried to put together the pieces of his broken heart. And while my younger siblings sure missed her cooking as they grew tired mine, they were appreciative of what love and comfort I was able to give them. This experience, for me, defines what it is to be a mother: being able to show compassion and love for another even while experiencing great pain.
Now, my days are spent in giggling play with my two young daughters, Grace and Eliza. Frequent are the moments too special for words. Today on my morning walk, my ears were filled with the music of laughter as I reached into the stroller to ‘get them’. While relishing these moments, I know that I became a mother long before my Grace was born, and I am grateful for the many substitute mothers I have had that have taught me how to love more purely.