The Many Ways We Mother

Daile Unruh-Peters, May 10, 2024, 7:02 PM
Daile Unruh-Peters

By the time I reached my mid-thirties I laid claim to being a stepmother, a grandmother and a great grandmother. It was the distinguishing feature about myself that I pulled out every time I was asked to share something that no one knew about me. I loved watching the disbelief that people had, the way their faces betrayed their mental calculations as they tried to figure out how young I would have been to now, at my current age, have a great grandchild. All of this was before I became a birth mother at the age of 35.

I have experienced the joys and sorrow of being a 'traditional' and 'non-traditional' mother. As a 'traditional mother' I carried, birthed, nurtured, protected, advocated, supported and released the child I carried in my womb into the world. As a 'non-traditional' mother I carried and birthed the potential of other women's children. I nurtured them and advocated for them in the womb of my imagination and thoughts, and released them into the world. I have been named mother in many ways.
As Adrienne Rich said "we are all born of a woman". While this is something all human beings share in common, it would be inaccurate to claim that, because we have all been born of a woman, we have all had the same experience of being mothered, or that we all had the same experience of mothering. For some, the reality is that their mothers were (and are) absent or harmful - they have not been loved well. Some have longed to mother but circumstances have prevented this from being their reality. This litany for mothering/mothers, is for all. It is for those of us who have been mothered and have mothered well; and for those of us who have not been mothered, or have not mothered well.
Gracious God, Mother and Father of us all,
We praise you for your gift of motherly love, gentle and fierce, strong and humble, kind and true.
We give thanks for all those in our lives who possess the soul of a mother.
We give thanks and celebrate with those we know who have given birth this year.
We give thanks and anticipate with those in our community who are expecting a child.
Birthing God, inhabit their joy.

We pray for and mourn with those who have lost children through accidents, sickness, DNCs, miscarriage, failed adoptions or unjust systems.
We pray for those who are traveling the hard path of infertility.
We pray for and grieve with the mothers of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls across this land.
Suffering God, bring comfort and justice.

We give thanks for those who are foster moms, adoptive moms,
for those who are mentor moms, spiritual moms, and stepmothers
this world so desperately needs them, perhaps now more than ever.
We pray for those who have placed children in adoptive families.
Advocating God, increase their influence; comfort them in their selflessness.

We give thanks for and celebrate with mothers who have warm and close relationships with their children.
And we pray for mothers who have disappointment, heartache and distance with their children.
Reconciling God, increase their hope.

We pray for single mothers today, mothers who care for their children alone, doing their best to fulfill all the needs their children have – to be mother and father.
Empowering God, energize and strengthen them.

We pray for and grieve with children who lost their mothers this year.
We pray for and acknowledge children who have experienced abuse at the hands of their mothers.
Healing God, shelter and comfort them.

We pray for mothers who were themselves inadequately mothered
due to experiences of injustice such as being brought up in residential schools,
the devastation of mental illness, blatant unkindness, patterns of generational abuse, and other human failures.
Weeping God, bring justice, comfort and healing.

We pray for those who are single, yet long to be married and perhaps mothering their own children.
We pray for those who are happily single and mother in ways that may not be visible.
We pray for women who marry and choose not to have children.
Welcoming God, increase our capacity to embrace and include.

We pray today for mothers who cannot feed their children,
who are homeless or without a homeland;
who are fleeing with their children because of war.
Protecting God, give them peace, security and a place to belong. 
Courageous God, give us boldness to create a world where mothers can raise their children in peace and plenty.

God, on this Mother's Day, we pray that you help us to walk with all mothers.
God, who created mothers, who came as a child and had a mother,
God, who loves us with a more complete and deeper love than we have ever known,
Hear our prayer this day, 


Daile Unruh-Peters is a spiritual director in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She also serves as an elder at Winnipeg Centre Vineyard and is part of their preaching team.