Recently we had the supreme pleasure of being a foster home for a litter of stray kittens and their mommy. Six fuzzy little bundles of gray, black, and brown stripes, the kittens were only four weeks old, and still nursing, when a friend asked if we could take care of them. She didn't have to twist my arm very hard. Maybe only my pinky finger.
We cleared space in our mudroom for a good-sized cat bed, multiple water dishes, and two litter boxes. We purchased a few kitten toys, but they attracted the kittens' attention only briefly. What these bundles of joy really liked to do was to chase their mother's tail day in and day out. Mommy cat took it well, but I noticed that she would occasionally creep away from her young'ns and curl up by herself in a laundry basket full of beach towels up on a shelf. Watching her do this, I smiled to myself remembering the many bleary-eyed years I spent nursing babies, then handing them off to my husband, and crawling back into bed to get a little more sleep.
One morning, about a week into caring for the kittens, we came into the mudroom to find one of the kittens missing. We began frantically searching for this gray-and-white fuzzball amid the cat toys, coats, boots, and canned goods also housed in our mudroom. Before long we found her, not in danger, but snuggled up with her mother in the laundry basket. I smiled, again, at the similarity between this mommy cat, her kittens, and my own mothering experiences.
When the kids were of pre-school age, I would try to wake up before they did in order to "sneak in" some prayer time before the day began. Without fail the kids would wake up earlier, too, and find me. If I cleared a corner in the house to do a project, it would become their new favorite hangout. I learned very quickly that a playroom full of new toys simply couldn't hold a candle to mommy's lap.
As a society at large it is the beauty of this mother-child bond that we celebrate on Mother's Day. As family units, we celebrate the specific women in our lives who have looked long and hard at their many choices and, by saying "yes" to motherhood, have let love and life win out for us. In the grand orchestra of family life, mothers are the conductors. In the construction of hearth and home, mothers are the master builders. Against that which would corrupt innocence, mothers are soldiers on the home front, guardians and shepherdesses of childhood. To fledgling teens, climbing out on the limbs of self-sufficiency, mothers are the safety nets. To young adults, navigating the waters of autonomy, mothers are the lighthouses. Mothering is an act of great courage and hope. Mothering is a personal investment in the future. Should we ever doubt the importance or influence of mothering, we need look no further than to Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, whose simple 'fiat' ushered in the possibility of redemption for the entire human race.
Tragically, from the litter of kittens we fostered all but one died from distemper. Amazingly, the striped fuzzball that survived was the one that had sought and found her mother in the laundry basket. After two months of veterinary care, we adopted this kitten. Incredibly, one of the first things she did when we brought her home again, was to race to the mudroom and jump up into her mother's laundry basket. I swallowed a lump in my throat as we watched her sniff around the beach towels, curl up in a ball, and go to sleep. Although mommy cat was gone, her mothering had left a lasting impression. Mothering matters. Mothering makes a lasting difference. Happy Mother's Day to all my mothering colleagues out there and thank you for letting love and life win out. I appreciate you.