As of this Mother's Day, more than 1,000 young girls and women have been rescued from the insurgent Boko Haram by the Nigerian military.
Considering the outcry and demonstrations throughout Africa and in the United States last year when 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram, I am surprised more has not been written here about the freed women. In Nigeria and in Great Britain, the rescues are big news.
What's not clear is if any of those girls kidnapped from boarding school dormitories in the dead of night in Chibok, Nigeria, in April 2014 have been found. Their disappearance prompted global cries of #BringBackOurGirls over social media.
The military is pushing back the extremist group, leaving behind the hundreds and hundreds of women and girls the extremists captured and held as sex slaves. Most of the rescued women were weak from hunger and dehydration when found. Many needed help stepping off the military trucks used to bring them to safety.
The Daily Times in Nigeria reported that some women had walked for three days before they were rescued, "their faces gaunt, their hair light and tinted brown, their stomachs distended, all signs of malnutrition suffered over a long period. They looked shattered and sick."
One woman, Asabe Aliyu, a 23-year-old mother of four, told a reporter she was beaten almost daily by the insurgents.
"I was abducted six months ago in Delsak when our village was overrun by Boko Haram," Aliyu said in tears. "First I had sojourned from my village to a forest close to Cameroon, they turned me into a sex machine. They took turns to sleep with me. Now, I am pregnant and I cannot identify the father."
She is not alone.
Femi Adesina, a columnist for The Daily Sun in Nigeria, wrote that when the number of women rescued was about 600, 214 of them were in various stages of pregnancy.
"Now, what do we do with Boko Haram babies?" Adesina wrote on May 8. "Nurture the would-be mothers, get them safely delivered and have elaborate naming ceremonies? Who would stand in the place of the fathers, as the men who planted the seed had probably been blown to kingdom come by soldiers who sacked the camps where they once held sway? Would the mothers love and tend the babies, products of their own violation and defilement? Would they hate the babies, leave them to die, or simply throw them into pit latrines? Would it be the fault of the babies?"
These girls and women are about to become mothers, some for the first time. Their perception of motherhood isn't quite the kisses, flowers and candy images that are flashing across our emails or televisions this time of year by American advertising companies.
The poetic words about our special moms re-posted on Facebook mean nothing to women who have been raped repeatedly and then left with the wrenching dilemma of what to do with the children they carry.
The situation is similar to the "quandary" Adesina wrote about after Arabs killed black-skin people during the war in the Darfur region of Sudan in 2004, he said. The Arabs were called Janjaweed or "Devils on horseback."
"They were fierce people, who subdued their adversaries with sheer brutality, and raped the women, causing hundreds, if not thousands of them to get pregnant," Adesina wrote. "And you know what most of the mothers did? They had the babies, and either left them to starve to death, or threw them inside pit latrines. How could they hold a product of hatred to their breasts, feeding the tot, knowing it was the seed of a man from hell?"
I don't know.
And yet we have many examples of mothers who give birth to their rapist's children and love them. One is Amanda Berry, held captive in Cleveland with two other women for nearly 10 years by Ariel Castro. She gave birth to his daughter in 2006 and has nurtured that child.
Unfortunately, people are not all the same. Not all women who have served as mothers have actually given birth. Not all women who have given birth have served as mothers. And, perhaps just as importantly, not all children are conceived in love.
Adesina wrote in 2005 that the situation with the raped mothers in Darfur was a paradox. "While in other lands and climes, some people would gladly give an arm and a leg to have babies of their own, these ones are cast into latrines."
He continued, "There is the legendary mother's love, which can never be compared with any other kind of love. But when mothers begin to hate what they carried in their wombs for nine months, it is a tragedy."
Motherhood doesn't always fit nicely on a greeting card.
When we say "Happy Mother's Day," let us all be truly grateful for the women who nurtured us, whether they are related to us or not.
And then, silently if necessary, let's say a prayer for all the Nigerian women who may not fathom a way to be a mother and happy at the same time.