Mother’s Day is a beautiful day to honor one of the most special relationships there is. Except for when that bond is missing, or broken, or has not occurred. Today I am taking a different lens to one of our most revered holidays. First I want to honor all of the mothers, surrogate mothers, aunties, grand moms, foster parents and single dads who fill that role for their children. The rest of this post is dedicated to those who fall somewhere in between.

This is just a few words of encouragement to people who are hurting this Mother’s Day, or who feel left out of the hoopla. Some of us may have lost our mothers at an early age. For example my mom died when I was 14, and my sisters were only 7. It was a turning point in my life, and created a void that is always present. I am eternally grateful to my cousin Annette, who took me in my Aunt Annie who cared for my sisters, and the many extended family members who stood in the gap for us. Not all are as blessed. Even as adults, the loss of a mother leaves a void – no matter what age we are. Others may be adopted or benefited from foster care. Although they may not know their biological parents, they have been “chosen”, which is very special indeed.

Motherhood is hallowed in our society. Yet some women are unable to bear children, or have suffered the loss of a child to miscarriage or other complications. Others choose not to have children, and some people unfairly judge them for their choice. Some women reach menopause without having the opportunity to bear children. These women are somehow left out of the celebration during these days, though they may play important roles such as auntie, God mother, big sister or mentor.

Life brings us both joys and sorrows. And I have had my share of both. As a mom, I am tremendously blessed. And as someone who lost her mom, I have spent most of my life without that crucial life-line. I have friends who fall in all of the categories I mention above. We love and we grieve. We have the family we are born with, and the family we create. In some cases the bonds of the latter outweigh those of the former.

This Mother’s Day, I encourage you to honor all of your relationships, maternal or not, familial or not. If you are grieving someone special this year, own the pain, because there is no way around it. But try not to let it swallow you. Try not to be alone. Make the most of what God has given us. Life isn’t always fair, but we can choose to embrace what is – to embrace the people we love.

May God be with you and yours, and may you experience so much love that your heart bursts from happiness.

(c) TRamsey May 2013