Guest Post by Jennifer Gates, Community Life Coordinator, Unity of SA
May and springtime are times of increasing warmth and rebirth here in San Antonio and for much of our nation. What better time to show our appreciation for the mother figures in our lives? The nurturing force we find at work around and within us.
This nurturing, maternal force often comes to us in the form of our own mother or female family member. But, for others among us, we also find the love, warmth and nurturing presence is alive and well in fathers, extended family, siblings, close friends and mentors. In fact, the term nurture means to care for and encourage growth or development of someone or something. By that definition, this job is open to everyone!
I remember, as a child, planting strawberry plants with my parents on a Saturday morning. I waited with great anticipation for the first sign of edible fruit to emerge. It was an amazing experience to pick those juicy berries from a plant that I had placed into the dirt. I lovingly watered it and watched over it as it grew into its full beauty! My own children brought home bean plants from elementary school and placed them on our window sill watching for the first green shoots to emerge. While I, their mother, watched for their own signs of growth and development. But, not everything we turn our attention to develops or grows as we expect. Sometimes life and loving action is met with heartache or despair. Even if the outcome is less than we had hoped for, the process of being the nurturer changes us in unexpected ways. By acting in the role of nurturer, we nurture our own growth.
How wonderful it is to consider that we can be this nurturing presence in the world – and not only to those around us but also to ourselves. Think about the self-talk you direct inward, especially in times of defeat, heartache, loneliness, or uncertainty. What words or phrases could you eliminate or change to support yourself as you grow through life’s circumstances? Who else could you touch by your example of self-care and self-compassion? Who else deserves your gratitude for the example they have shown you or the loving care they have extended?
When we begin to look outside of our standard definition of “Mother”, we are able to open our hearts and embrace the nurturing force that surrounds us and supports us each day. We can call upon a reconfigured set of memories to find those that have encouraged our growth and development in unexpected ways. We open ourselves to new paths of both understanding and moving forward with the assurance that we are secure, loved and surrounded by encouragement and strength.
So in this season of celebrating the mothers in our lives, I encourage you to expand your definitions and open your heart. And, most importantly, include yourself in your praise and thanksgiving for all that you offer yourself and the world around you. You are well cared for, and your nurturing presence changes the world. Happy nurturing!