The second Sunday of May we celebrate Mother’s day in many countries all over the world, including Papua New Guinea and my home country Finland. Usually Mother’s day for me is giving my mother a card and maybe a present, telling her how amazing she is, also cursing a little bit over how commercial the day has become. This year, however, I notice that the day has gained new meaning for me. Maybe it is for the fact that many of my best friends have in the recent years become mothers. Maybe it is because I have considered myself an extra mommy for the five puppies we currently have running around our compound. Or maybe it is because motherhood is such a strong background force in the work we do here in Papua New Guinea.
Every day we see mothers’ efforts in coming to Tari hospital to get medical care for their children. They may walk for two hours, without shoes, carrying their children in their bilums (traditional string bag) to reach the hospital. We see women at the Family Support Center who have suffered domestic violence for many years, but whose primary concern is not themselves, but their children.
We treat raped women who need to rush back home to make sure the dinner is served to their children. We see poor women who’ve tried their best to stabilize their child’s injured foot with a piece of cardboard. We meet women who have been assaulted by their own sons and yet they forgive them. But we also see the other side of motherhood. We see women who are so highly traumatized that they are not capable of expressing love to their own children. We see women who abandon their raped daughters, because someone taught them that raped women don’t deserve respect. We see women that hit their children. We see women who stay in a relationship with a man who abuses their child.
There is never a justification for maltreating a child.
But there are circumstances where parents’ capability of protecting and loving their children is limited.
Circumstances beyond the parent’s control. Poverty. Abuse. War. Diseases. Traumas.
I believe mothers give their children as much as they possibly can. Mothers who were supported and believed in can give their children wings to fly. Mothers who only saw the ugly side of life may not be able to show their children the beauty of the world. Mothers who grew up surrounded by love have great amounts of affection to pass on to their own children. Mothers who were never the most important person for anyone else may not be able to show their children how very precious they are. But the little they can do, they do. They little they can give, they give.
I believe every mother does the best she can. And no one can require more than that.
I wish a happy Mother’s day to all mothers… and to one in particular. One who is on the other side of the world, but whose love and spirit is constantly present, on every road I travel. Min mamma.