As a middle-aged woman with no kids, I have been by turns annoyed, amused, angry, breathless, and resigned on Mother’s Day. There have been Mother’s Days when I couldn’t bear to have everyone gauging my expression, so I skipped church. There are others when I’ve stood as requested—for “we are all mothers in Zion”—to receive a potted begonia or a chocolate bar. “No,” I would think to myself. “We are not ALL mothers. Pretending we are doesn’t help.”
In November of 2016, I was in a convoy of Kurdish soldiers delivering supplies to makeshift communities at the top of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. Two years earlier, ISIS had swept through the remote Yezidi villages, creating horrible destruction and intense emotional pain. The Kurdish Peshmerga were providing the security for the projects that November day. Their efforts weren’t decorative. We drove through bombed-out villages with ISIS graffiti and headed up a twisty road where the Yezidi had been protected by the steep mountains. For the soldiers with us, this was much lighter duty than fighting on the front lines in Mosul, but they still took their assignment seriously, scanning the horizon and manning the guns to be ready for any trouble. The captain chatted with me and pointed out interesting things, but he was always looking past me and subtly moving his soldiers into a phalanx surrounding us. We distributed kerosene heaters and bundles of coats and boots that day. We also methodically visited the schools and health clinic LDS Charities had been constructing throughout the summer. The weather had turned cold, and families crowded around the trucks, anxious for help.
It struck me late in the afternoon as the convoy was hustling back down the mountain before the sun set that I had also honed skills for this kind of day.