Inside many of our stories is the story of a mother. May she be the one we are, one we’ve loved, one we’ve known, or one we have cherished. The word “mother” itself is a transcendence in language—home to a sound, a shape, a rhythm of living. Housing a circle, a geography, the bones that came before you, an idea, and a memory—completing a cycle while simultaneously breaking it. Leaving the lines to loosen into our own paths.
What to do with a beautiful month like May, one that cradles such a day when we celebrate mothers?
For me, the dialogue of love and transformation between my mother and me, which has filled my own story since I was a child, spills across pages of sticky notes, thank you cards, art books, memory trunks, Blue Monday jars, text messages, stamped letters, and silences.
It collects in corners and gets swept into the light, finding new ways to settle into my relationship with my mother—the human and the word.
Here she sits always, filling the lacuna, bringing me back to center. Transitive. I love her for these things and for the life she has built out of decades and decades of adventures, upheavals, growth, and mothering.
There is a picture of my mother, head slightly cocked, a bleached streak of blonde in her black shoulder-length hair, her shoulders hot with the day, leaning against the front fender of a sea-green Chevy. The sun is high; I can tell by her half-squint.
That look of resistance on her face may not be from the sun, but from the gravity through which she has always walked through her life. The lace in her brow, the strong grin, the unwavering sense of self.
In such a moment, I see the woman she is and continues to be, and the woman she gave to me as a divining rod, a book of translations, and warm skin to wrap around the skin of this world. While the home of this moment, caught 40-some-odd years ago, is bent and burrowed in the range of a photograph, I feel it breathe with life every time I look at it. Every time I look at her now. And I thank her for capturing all that she is and giving it to me with such a furious love, that I may now know how to be such a mother.
May is for thank yous and celebrations. For honoring the mothers of our lives, both past and present. May is for creating a little more space than we may do in our years, to point toward the heart of a mother we love. And maybe love ourselves a little bit more.
With my hand on your heart, blood-mothers, chosen mothers, and mother memories, I thank you.
And, to Linda Susan Alameda—mother, grandmother, storyteller, warrior—I love you.