Celebrate mothering

Mother's Day is May 14, which is two Sundays from now. I am a mom, as you probably know by now. But my friends and family know that for the past several years I have been advocating for an expansion of this holiday. To me, "mother" is not a noun, but a verb.

Mother's Day traditionally is the day you try to remember to send your mom a card or some flowers. If you don't have a great relationship with her that can be difficult: send something half-heartedly that you don't really mean? Or don't send anything and deal with the guilt and accusations for not celebrating?

It's even more difficult for those whose mothers are sorely missed, either through separation or passing away. It's also a gut-wrenching holiday for those who desperately wish to become mothers but experience infertility.

And at the same time, the holiday overlooks a lot of people who do the work of mothers without the credit: a special teacher or adult confidante who looks out for a kid in need; pet parents who devote energy, love and considerable resources to care for their little loved ones; men who are raising children either in same-sex relationships or as single parents; nurses who care for us when no one else is there. I could go on, but I'm sure you have some of those people in mind.

That's why to me "mother" is a verb. Mothering is performing those caring, soothing functions that we all need. Mothers listen. Mothers comfort. Mothers drop everything to come to your aid. Chances are that if your own mother doesn't or can't perform those actions for you, there is someone else in your life to whom you turn for that nurturing and caring.

Celebrate those people. Let's honor the people in our lives who look out for us, who support us, whose shoulders we cry on. As a mother, that's what I want out of this holiday, much more so than flowers.