A Mother’s Day Benediction by Anne Kerrigan

This year, as Mother’s Day approaches, I look at it with different eyes and an unusual mindset. I am sure it will be a unique experience for me, especially since I am so grateful to have survived Covid and to be alive in order to celebrate the holiday. I have five wonderful, exceptional children, and we all connect on this day, except for my beloved Kathleen who passed away in 2011. She is still, and will always be, a part of my Mother’s Day reflections.

This Mother’s Day I think of my own mother, and I am deeply aware of how much she influenced my life by her goodness, her faith, and her sterling character. I miss her still. As I reflect on her, my mind turns to her three sisters, my marvelous aunts who had no children but were always role models for me even as my mom was.

How does our society make allowances on this day for these three childless women? It is only in recent years that our thoughts and prayers have gone out to the many women who are biologically childless but who have loved and nurtured children all their lives. We have a long way yet to go. Mother’s Day also has the possibility of being a very painful day for those who have experienced a difficult relationship with their mothers, or whose mothers have died at a young age.

A common practice in my parish on Mother’s Day was to ask all the mothers to stand so that the entire community could honor them. There was applause, a prayer, and a blessing. Even years ago, before I became more conscious of the implications of how this might impact childless women, I felt uncomfortable being singled out just because I was a biological mom. Perhaps, subconsciously, I thought of my own aunts and how they would have felt in such a circumstance. What about the teachers, social workers, nuns, and friends who were also childless, but who loved and served children all their lives? What about those couples desperately trying to become parents? My niece recently adopted a little boy, and I often think of how his biological mom must feel on Mother’s Day.

It is a wonderful thing to have a specific day on which to honor our mothers, as well as the many others who have impacted us and helped to mold us. It is also an opportunity to acknowledge all those who serve children in communities throughout the world. I hope parishes consider this fact as they celebrate Mother’s Day this year. 

So—a happy Mother’s Day to my mom, Aunt Kitty, Aunt Anne, and Aunt Mabel. Thank you for all you have done for me, and for being the role models you have always been and continue to be. Thank you to all the nuns who have treasured me and taught me, and to all the other single women who have contributed to my growth as a person. I am so very grateful for the gift of your presence in my life. ♦

Anne Kerrigan is a registered nurse, mother of five, and grandmother of nine. She also has a master’s degree in theology and is the winner of the Australasian Religious Press Association Silver Award in Excellence for “Best Faith Reflection.” She is in the process of writing her memoir. She can be reached at martker@aol.com.

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