Sandra Maria Esteves

Mother’s Day Reflection

Motherhood has powerfully reinforced for me the significance of the fact that when God was most vulnerable – in the womb, nursing at the breast, as a child, at death – God was wholly entrusted to the care of women. I find that frighteningly profound. — Rachel Held Evans

We are born of love. Love is our mother. – Rumi

Songs about and for Mothers:

Songs by, about, and for Women:

Blessing the Mothers — Jan Richardson

Blessing the Mothers
Who are our
first sanctuary.

Who fashion
a space of blessing
with their own being:

with the belly
the bone and
the blood

if not with these,
then with the
durable heart
that offers itself
to break
and grow wide,
to gather itself
around another
as refuge,
as home.

Who lean into
the wonder and terror
of loving what
they can hold
but cannot contain.

Who remain
in some part of themselves
always awake,
a corner of consciousness
keeping perpetual vigil.

Who know
that the story
is what endures
is what binds us
is what runs deeper
even than blood

and so they spin them
in celebration
of what abides
and benediction
on what remains:

a simple gladness
that latches onto us
and graces us
on our way.

Remember  Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn,
that is the strongest point of time.
Remember sundown and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth,
how your mother struggled to give you form and breath.
You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father.
He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too.
Talk to them,
listen to them.
They are alive poems.
Remember the wind.
Remember her voice.
She knows the origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

To a Child — Sophie Jewett
The leaves talked in the twilight, dear;
   Hearken the tale they told:
How in some far-off place and year,
   Before the world grew old,
I was a dreaming forest tree,
   You were a wild, sweet bird
Who sheltered at the heart of me
   Because the north wind stirred;
How, when the chiding gale was still,
   When peace fell soft on fear,
You stayed one golden hour to fill
   My dream with singing, dear.
To-night the self-same songs are sung
   The first green forest heard;
My heart and the gray world grow young—
   To shelter you, my bird.

Prayer for those getting through mother’s day 
— Maren Tirabassi
Spirit of gentleness,
wrap all your holy loving
non-binary compassion 
around all of those 
just hoping to get through a holiday 
that washes them in tears –
because their mothers are dead
or their children are dead,
because they wanted children
but did not have them,
or their children don’t want them
right now in their lives,
or their parents don’t love
a gender identity so dearly chosen,
because their childhood family
or their present one
is marked by abuse,
because there is great distance
of miles or minds
of border wall or prison wall
between them
and someone they love,
because of a miscarriage,
a failed search for a biological parent,
a lonely foster care bedroom,
a desperate attempt
to be a perfect stepparent
or no attempt made at all, 
or just because this holiday
holds up a magnifying glass
to the heart.

On this Mother’s Day, I celebrate and give thanks for my own mother … and all the mothers who have been able to provide this tremendous gift. And I offer prayers for those women who, owing to the gaps and fissures in their own landscape, have left pain and emptiness in the space where a mother should have been. For those who choose to enter into the empty, motherless places—the “othermothers” who come in the form of teachers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, neighbors, friends—bless you and thank you for your mothering hearts. For all the mothers—mothers by blood, mothers by heart—a blessing to you on this Mother’s Day. — Jan Richardson

Essay about Mother’s Day Anne Lamott
I did not raise my son, Sam, to celebrate Mother’s Day. … Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path. Ha! Every woman’s path is difficult, and many mothers were as equipped to raise children as wire monkey mothers. I say that without judgment: It is, sadly, true. An unhealthy mother’s love is withering.
The illusion is that mothers are automatically happier, more fulfilled and complete. But the craziest, grimmest people this Sunday will be the mothers themselves, stuck herding their own mothers and weeping children and husbands’ mothers into seats at restaurants. These mothers do not want a box of chocolate. These mothers are on a diet.
…. the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure. The non-mothers must sit in their churches, temples, mosques, recovery rooms and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark and See’s. There is no refuge — not at the horse races, movies, malls, museums. … You could always hide in a nice seedy bar, I suppose. Or an ER.
… Don’t get me wrong: There were times I could have literally died of love for my son, and I’ve felt stoned on his rich, desperate love for me. But I bristle at the whispered lie that you can know this level of love and self-sacrifice only if you are a parent. …
But my main gripe about Mother’s Day is that it feels incomplete and imprecise. The main thing that ever helped mothers was other people mothering them; a chain of mothering that keeps the whole shebang afloat. I am the woman I grew to be partly in spite of my mother, and partly because of the extraordinary love of her best friends, and my own best friends’ mothers, and from surrogates, many of whom were not women at all …
No one is more sentimentalized in America than mothers on Mother’s Day, but no one is more often blamed for the culture’s bad people and behavior. You want to give me chocolate and flowers? Great. I love them both. I just don’t want them out of guilt, and I don’t want them if you’re not going to give them to all the people who helped mother our children. But if you are going to include everyone, then make mine something like M&M’s, and maybe flowers you picked yourself, even from my own garden, the cut stems wrapped in wet paper towels, then tin foil and a waxed-paper bag from my kitchen drawers. I don’t want something special. I want something beautifully plain. Like everything else, it can fill me only if it is ordinary and available to all.

There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. For me it was the most liberating thing that ever happened to me. . . . Liberating because the demands that children make are not the demands of a normal ‘other.’ The children’s demands on me were things that nobody ever asked me to do. To be a good manager. To have a sense of humor. To deliver something that somebody could use. And they were not interested in all the things that other people were interested in, like what I was wearing or if I were sensual. . . . Somehow all of the baggage that I had accumulated as a person about what was valuable just fell away. I could not only be me — whatever that was — but somebody actually needed me to be that. . . . If you listen to [your children], somehow you are able to free yourself from baggage and vanity and all sorts of things, and deliver a better self, one that you like. The person that was in me that I liked best was the one my children seemed to want. — Toni Morrison

What I Learned From My Mother
— Julia Kasdorf
I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

Your Clothes Judith Kroll
Of course they are empty shells, without hope of animation.
Of course they are artifacts.
Even if my sister and I should wear some,
or if we give others away,
they will always be your clothes without you,
as we will always be your daughters without you.

Mother’s Day at Doña Rodríguez
— Sandra Maria Esteves (for Aya)
We never met, but I knew her.
By that ray of life that passed into her son,
brilliant as sky through cane fields,
casting pastel shadows on a jíbaro’s balcón,
abundant fruit and flower scented
from an ancient caribbean, full of spirit
y la vida india.
I never heard her cry, but I was there,
at the birth, when the hurricane growled,
fierce and terrible, screaming,
as she listened to its thunder within herself,
her womb stretching,
pushing out the manchild she offered the world,
not in regret, but full
of remembrances, of land-plowing farmers,
plátano covered rainforests,
asphalt paths carved in slavery
through migrant jungles and concrete mountains.
I never saw the high curve of her taíno face
with its delicate brown cheek,
or felt the caress of her motherly hands. But I knew her,
recognized in emanating points of vision
from a craftmaker’s fingertips,
in precision woven tapestries, like gifts from ancestors,
marking borderlines where families become whole.
We never spoke, or shared a conversation,
but I can still hear the music
composed in the black latino brew of her kitchen.
Smells and leftover renditions of creole beans and salsa,
of mamá-cooking ladles tapping three/two clave
from sinks to pots to laundry machines
in survival ritual symphonies.
We never exchanged a word,
yet she whispered to my soul,
the way mother teachers son to love his child,
the way father shares with daughter the meaning of abuela,
the way bonds are secured,
like a sunday afternoon banquet at the table of Orisha
where all food is nourished,
I never knew her, yet she reached out,
as sister, woman, teacher,
as mother, a gentle wind,
touching me. Becoming mine.

Lunchbox Love Note
Kenn Nesbitt
Inside my lunch
to my surprise
a perfect heart-shaped
love note lies.
The outside says,
“Will you be mine?”
and, “Will you be
my valentine?”
I take it out
and wonder who
would want to tell me
“I love you.”
Perhaps a girl
who’s much too shy
to hand it to me
eye to eye.
Or maybe it
was sweetly penned
in private by
a secret friend
Who found my lunchbox
sitting by
and slid the note in
on the sly.
Oh, I’d be thrilled
if it were Jo,
the cute one in
the second row.
Or could it be
from Jennifer?
Has she found out
I’m sweet on her?
My mind’s abuzz,
my shoulders tense.
I need no more
of this suspense.
My stomach lurching
in my throat,
I open up
my little note.
Then wham! as if
it were a bomb,
inside it reads,
“I love you—Mom.”

Mother’s Day at Crystal Banquet, Now Closed
Bryan Byrdlong
I dance with my mother beneath the fake crystal
chandelier. A group of us swaying kompa in circles,
with our mothers, in honor of our mothers, despite
our mothers. We radiate out like the plastic floral
arrangements adorning each table, our endless
fractal orbit, Creole as sonic centerfold. I don’t
understand what infects me, only know it does,
the iridescence of immortal flowers, the kompa band’s
baritone, the blue as the karabela dresses river
down a makeshift runway. We have come to
pay respect to our mothers, our mother tongue
which heals, speaks for itself, is here in our collective
magnetic spin, our slew of aphorisms, our revolutionary
lilt, honed. All our mothers are here with us,
our bodies & so their bodies raised mitochondrial.
& we have gathered to eat bread and chicken penne,
for Tante Raymonde to take my arm & lead me
to dance, for my cousin Michael to chase me,
this too a dance. He catches me, tickles my sides.
I am 8, sideways, a small infinity. My laughter is
in Creole. I laugh like no one is after me.

A Practical Mom — Amy Uyematsu
can go to Bible study every Sunday
and swear she’s still not convinced,
but she likes to be around people who are.
We have the same conversation
every few years—I’ll ask her if she stops
to admire the perfect leaves
of the Japanese maple
she waters in her backyard,
or tell her how I can gaze for hours
at a desert sky and know this
as divine. Nature, she says,
doesn’t hold her interest. Not nearly
as much as the greens, pinks, and grays
of a Diebenkorn abstract, or the antique
Tiffany lamp she finds in San Francisco.
She spends hours with her vegetables,
tasting the tomatoes she’s picked that morning
or checking to see which radishes are big enough to pull.
Lately everything she touches bears fruit,
from new-green string beans to winning
golf strokes, glamorous hats she designs and sews,
soaring stocks with their multiplying shares.
These are the things she can count in her hands,
the tangibles to feed and pass on to daughters
and grandchildren who can’t keep up with all
the risky numbers she depends on, the blood-sugar counts
and daily insulin injections, the monthly tests
of precancerous cells in her liver and lungs.
She’s a mathematical wonder with so many calculations
kept alive in her head, adding and subtracting
when everyone else is asleep.

Mother’s Day — Dorianne Laux
I passed through the narrow hills

of my mother’s hips one cold morning

and never looked back, until now, clipping

her tough toenails, sitting on the bed’s edge

combing out the tuft of hair at the crown

where it ratted up while she slept, her thumbs

locked into her fists, a gesture as old

as she is, her blanched knees fallen together

beneath a blue nightgown. The stroke


took whole pages of words, random years

torn from the calendar, the names of roses

leaning over her driveway: Cadenza,

Great Western, American Beauty. She can’t

think, can’t drink her morning tea, do her

crossword puzzle in ink. She’s afraid

of everything, the sound of the front door

opening, light falling through the blinds—

pulls her legs up so the bright bars

won’t touch her feet. I help her

with the buttons on her sweater. She looks

hard at me and says the word sleeve.

Exactly, I tell her and her face relaxes

for the first time in days. I lie down


next to her on the flowered sheets and tell her

a story about the day she was born, head

first into a hard world: the Great Depression,

shanties, Hoovervilles, railroads and unions.

I tell her about Amelia Earhart and she asks


Air? and points to the ceiling. Asks Heart?

and points to her chest. Yes, I say. I sing

Cole Porter songs. Brother, Can You Spare

a Dime? When I recite lines from Gone

with the Wind she sits up and says Potatoes!

and I say, Right again. I read her Sandburg,

some Frost, and she closes her eyes. I say yes,

yes, and tuck her in. It’s summer. She’s tired.

No one knows where she’s been.

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