Sayrie: Mother’ships’ and the Many Faces of Motherhood

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. While it is a day that some people will spend celebrating, others are experiencing grief or grappling with toxicity. My own relationship with this day has transformed over time, and is now ultimately a day I like to pause and appreciate what I like to refer to as my mother”ships” (maternal relationships).

Having spent my young life in transition, I was keenly aware that the dictionary definition of a mother did not apply to me. In my mind I firmly believed I was motherless and for the longest time considered myself to be nobody’s child.

This belief changed for me when I was adopted. It became a day that I celebrated my Earth Mother. At age eight, for the first time I was excited because I had my very own mother. This woman did not give birth to me, but she gave me life. She is the woman that unquestionably holds the position of mother in my heart. This is because she was not just another caregiver, she chose to be my mother. She chose to love me through my brokenness. She went to bat for me, she prayed for me, she taught me, she even stayed up at night hand sewing my clothes on her Singer sewing machine. A real Proverbs 31 woman. 

It didn’t take reaching adulthood for me to realize but I have a gem of a mother. My siblings and I were given a second chance at life of goodness and wholeness, and because of this, in her own quiet and gentle way, she has given birth to generations. My mother is a standard I admire and aspire to reach.

At 16 my view of this day transformed again. I had held out hope for years of meeting my bio mom. I wondered what she looked like, sounded like, acted like, etc. but that hope and desire faded after a while because that void had been healed. So when she showed up one random day, I wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic as she was. It took some time, but I love my bio mom too.

She was a child when she had me. A foster child trying to navigate life with a baby following her own rules. Apparently, we had fun. Months old she would put me in her backpack facing outward and we’d bike down the street. The mother I am cringes almost as soon as I can conjure up the image and chuckle. 

She could have aborted me. It was an option she had been presented with but never considered. She was carted around from high school to high school as part of a program to dissuade teenagers from becoming teen parents themselves. It was meant to shame her. She had no shame, she spoke with pride, and awaited birthing a child that she wanted to love, and that she wanted to love her back. 

She was told that I belonged to the State of Arizona but they would not separate a mother who was nursing her child. So she did, as long as she could. When time came to hand me over, she kidnapped me instead, and we hid in Savannah, Georgia. It was only after I caught a bad cold around 18 months, and she took me in to be seen that the nurses put in a call to the State of Arizona. That was it for us. I was taken from her, and she says it was a loss that changed her forever.

This coupled with having already been abandoned by her own biological mother with no chance  of reconciliation in light of her passing, for the longest time Mother’s Day was a day that she spent grieving.

She’s not the only one. Children have lost mothers and mothers have lost children. Physically or sometimes the relationship has been strained for one reason or another. Whether literally or figuratively, recently or long ago, the heart of a mother never forgets. Sometimes (painfully) things just don’t work out according to our ideals. Knowing this has taught me to hold space also for women who desire to have children but cannot. Oftentimes these women are still mothering others, and should also be recognized and appreciated.

Mother”ships” come in all forms. Grandmothers, aunties, teachers, first ladies, etc. So even if your situation doesn’t look traditional or ideal, hopefully you can still celebrate a special woman in your life. And if it’s been a while, and won’t cause you stress…call your mother.

A native of Phoenix, Arizona Aundrea Sayrie is a firm believer in the power of words, faith and a strong spirit. Her greatest desire is to encourage those around her to discover and honor their truth, and to passionately live on purpose.

Any views or opinions expressed in “Living on Purpose” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors