What is mother? Am I one? I have a child, I carried him and gave birth to him. I am raising him. Sometimes I am not raising him well, and sometimes I am a lioness stalking those who would try to harm him. Sometimes I feel like a wounded bird when I look at my son, all fluttering wings unable to fly.

My mother is a woman who seems to be cut from the cloth of a mothering shawl. She is wise and daring, she is a world within herself. I would endeavor to be like her, if not for the fact that I don’t seem to be cut from that same shawl. I am good at being mother when mother is who I see in the mirror, but many times I see someone else entirely.

My mirror shows me a girl with wisps of blonde and clear blue eyes, staring at her mother, perplexed by her strength. I am a child who still wants to be held, kissed, and tucked into bed to dream of the woman I’ll be.

My mirror shows me a teenager, slim and lost, wearing a black t-shirt and jeans that don’t fit. I am still her, still finding strength to stand tall in the midst of my changes.

My mirror will show me who I become, it will show me the wrinkles coming slowly in around my eyes. The ones from smiling so big and laughing so hard, the ones from squinting in the sun and searching for my destiny. That woman is wild, she’s brave, an undaunted warrior. She holds the hand of a child, but that child can run ahead of her too, letting her hand fall to a keyboard.

When I see her, looking back at me with green eyes now, hair darkened by age, I’m reminded even mothers are not only mothers. My mother lives in dirt now, her fingernails lined with the dark, rich brown of fertilizer. She is still my mother, still wise and protective like all mothers should be, but she’s changed in my eyes. She’s become something new. A creature who lives for herself and for me, for my brothers, and these children who gave her a new name too. She is more than my mother.

She reminds me with gardening gloves and a hoe, that we can be all of those reflections we see — child, teenager lost, woman aging and proud — each one in the right time, forever. We aren’t one thing perfectly crafted, but a many faceted prism. We reflect the light in our lives, shining even when that hits a piece of black glass.

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