I choose to widen the definition.

Happy belated Mothers’ Day, you guys!

Truth: That exclamation point costs me a lot of effort. Mothers’ Day isn’t the easiest holiday for me. Oh, sometimes I can shut my brain off for five minutes in a row and I can simplify it – Mothers’ Day can be simple and lovely and a tool with which I get my minions childrens to do whatever I want! Clean their rooms, do chores, stop bickering, let the dog in without complaint…

But when my brain is whirling, I start feeling all the feels. The past few years I thought it was because the girls were at their dad’s for his weekend. True, I could have invoked Mothers’ Day and asked for them for the day, and he would have gladly handed them over. But I let him enjoy his time with them and then we had a lovely Mothers’ Day feast each year. One that I cooked myself, true, but a lovely meal, all the same. So everyone won. This year Mothers’ Day fell on my weekend for the first time in years. And I was still feeling all the feels.

It’s my mom. Usually I can disassociate who my mom is now with my real mom, the mom I grew up with. Turns out not so much on Mothers’ Day. I called her and planned to spend as much time as I could with her; I set aside a nice big chunk of time with so many cheery stories. Only my mom wasn’t having a good day. She doesn’t like to talk on the phone much anymore, the Parkinson’s has made even that difficult for her. She has trouble following conversations, especially on bad days.

That could have sunk my day right there, all the feelings that brought to the surface, all the should-have-been scenarios floating through my damn imagination. But then all of my stupid friends came to the rescue being all stupid and…stupid and stuff.

See, my friends kept texting me and messaging me and emailing me to wish me a happy Mothers’ Day. I’d make up my mind to be all glum and then one of my friends would crack just the right joke to make me laugh. Or be sincere and honest enough that I couldn’t roll my eyes. Or tell me about the post that the girls’ stepmom wrote that made me cry (good tears!) and realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by such strong, wonderful, caring women. I realized how many moms I have in my life, holding me up and helping parent my girlies.

The girls’ stepmom, who is kind and patient and always trying to do the right thing, who pushes to keep blending our family in all the best ways. It takes an amazing woman to step into a newly fractured family and let them figure out new roles without upsetting the balance. She saw where we wanted to be – friends and co-parents – and helped the family get there. I know I beat this phrase to death, you guys, but I really did win the step-family lottery. She is an amazing mother to my girls, and her daughter is a terrific big sister to Gracie and Bee.

My sisters, who are always there for my daughters when they need a fairy godmother to come to the rescue. They listen to confessions, keep secrets, devise strategies (with me and the girls), buy them clothes, spoil them rotten, and all other manner mama duties.

Kim G., our favorite second-mama at school, who comes to the rescue when Gracie’s shoes don’t fit (and lends her her flip flops for the day), provides counsel when there’s frenemy drama, lets me panic over tornado warnings during school hours and assures me she’ll gather my children and keep them with her, signs permission slips when I forget, administers medicine when I can’t break away from work, and reassures me that the girls are with someone who loves them after every school tragedy pops up in the news. There is something to be said for having one of your best friends teach at your children’s school!

Corrie, my partner in crime, who sees my girlies nearly as much as I do! Knowing there is someone to swoop in at a moment’s notice to watch or feed or tend to my girlies is a panic button I could not do without. My girlies consider her family to be their family, and our girls feel just as comfortable at each others’ house as they do at their own. Any one of the girls call “Mama?” and Corrie and I both pop our heads up and and shout back “WHAT!” Awww – it’s the start of my mommune, isn’t it?

And to my aunts who are like my second moms – I wouldn’t be the person I am without you. Thank you for throwing cookouts when I come home, for driving me to school and CCD classes when my mom couldn’t, for always stopping by to visit, for always treating me like a grown-up when I was a kid (and a kid when I was a grown-up), for always conveniently going out for a night when I needed babysitting money, and creating such a safe space for me to be me. Thank you for creating such a wonderful definition of family.

Mothers’ Day isn’t just about bio moms. It’s about all kinds of moms. Stepmoms, foster moms, kickass aunts, second-mamas, fairy godmothers, friends and anyone else who steps in and helps raise these wonderful kiddos of ours. That reminder helped lift my spirit Sunday when I really needed it. Thank you to everyone in my village for that.

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5 Responses to “I choose to widen the definition.”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Beautifully writeen. I am glad there were so many people there to help save your Mother’s Day from the gloomies.

  2. Kathy Says:

    *written not what that first comment says.

  3. Jenna Hatfield Says:

    This post made my heart happy.

  4. Agent Torklepants Says:

    My favorite thing that the Aunts have ALWAYS done for us is yell at the Uncle who we were playing with. Even if we started it we never got yelled at only the Uncle did =0D

  5. Trish Says:

    Hugs. This post made me teary. You are a big hearted mama and woman.

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