A few years ago, Alpay and I were walking down the street on Mother's Day. A group of college students were giving out flowers bidding "Happy Mother's Day!" to women walking by. We smiled and were in the process of walking around the well-wishers, when a lovely young woman, flower in hand, stopped me. "Happy Mother's Day!" she said, presenting me a rose in my favorite color. "Actually," I stammered, gazing at the flower, "I'm not . . . a mother." I thought that accepting the rose would be a little like saying it's your birthday when it's not so you can get free cake in a restaurant.
"We're all mothers," the woman said encouragingly. I considered this.
"You're Mau-Mau Kitty's mother," Alpay prodded.
"See?" the woman said.
And in that way, the afternoon ended with me smiling and enjoying the delicate petals of a most deliciously-scented rose.
I've often thought of that day since, and always smile at the young woman's kindness, encouragement, and pluck. I do think those who suffer through childbirth, in vitro procedures, or years of being wait-listed at adoption agencies; those who open their homes to foster children in need; and those who deal with temper tantrums, terrible two's, and sulky teenagers deserve special recognition and thanks, not to mention breakfast in bed, papier-mache beads, or all-you-can-eat buffets on this day.
I'd also like to address every woman (guys, your time is coming next month) who has ever nurtured another soul; anyone who has provided encouragement, support, love, and guidance to another. All those wonderful teachers and professors, kind nurses, compassionate administrators; all of the bosses and managers and supervisors who, like mine, inspire one to be their best. I'm thinking of the communicators, the journalists, the artists and writers who interpret and share experiences; scientists and doctors and researchers and engineers and programmers whose work enhances life for us all; activists and counselors, and anyone who has ever taken the time to help or mentor another, as well as the "mothers" of all creatures--mammal and fish, fowl and reptile. To each of you, I offer the most exquisite flower in your favorite color and a word of thanks.