As we near the annual Mother's Day celebration, I've been thinking about women who have been "mom" to me throughout my life.
There's first, naturally, my biological mom, whose name was Doris. I was her third child, but the only one who survived beyond a few months. From her I learned several important lessons:
--put yourself in the other person's place
--don't hurt another person's feelings
--share what you have
--take care of your belongings
Life for my mom was not easy; she was divorced in a time when such action was frowned upon. She had to work to help support herself and me. We often had to make-do with whatever we had because we couldn't afford another whatever-it-was. I didn't know any of this when it was going on. Much of it became clear when I had children and experienced first hand what it meant to do without or make-do. My mom died when I was 15.
My next mom was my mother-in-law, Vira. She and I just clicked. Her house was where we often met on Friday or Saturday night for pizza--she and I made it while the guys talked in the other room. We were on the same wavelength, Vira and I. If she needed a utensil for use at the stove, I was handing it to her as she turned to ask. She was creative with fabric, liked to read, collected recipes, all of which I related to; and she played bridge with her lady friends, which never appealed to me. (Mainly because I couldn't get my head around the rules and nuances of bridge. Still can't.) She died when I was 27.
Years later I met Treva, one of the pillars of the small country church my family attended. She had one daughter, but apparently longed for a larger family. So she "adopted" all the 30-somethings in that church--boys and girls--as her own. No matter how downhearted we felt during the week, a Sunday morning of Treva's love and acceptance put things right again. Treva lived long enough to see me into my 50s.
By that time, I'd reconciled myself to being the mom, and not having one of my own in the flesh. Then I reconnected with Aunt Virginia, my mom's youngest sister, and the last of the 10 Jenkins children.
Aunt Virginia had two little boys--who naturally became grown-up men--but she never had little girls of her own. All my female cousins and I were happy to help her out. For several years my oldest daughter and I made an annual trip to Illinois for a weekend with Virginia and "her girls." We visited cemeteries where our great-greats were buried; we shopped at Walmart; we ate one meal out so we could visit with some cousins who couldn't come to the house; we admired Virginia's garden, and ate whatever produce was ripe and ready. Virginia lived a long life, and I was in my 60s when she died.
What is it that defines a "mom"?
Think of the people you know who've adopted children--are they any less a mom (or dad) because they aren't the biological parent?
Think of the women (since we're talking about moms today) who never married, but who spent their lives in service to children, young people, and adults: teachers, nurses and doctors, social workers, day-care people. . . .
Here's a partial list of characteristics I associate with moms:
--they want the best for you
--they laugh or cry with you
--they think of you often (you know this because they tell
you they do)
--they have wisdom, in spades, from years of living longer
than you have
--they share: ideas, advice, money, material goods, their physical help
--they let you make your own mistakes (they made theirs, and
learned from them)
--they let you go when they'd rather keep you safely with them, and
they keep you when you've no place to go
Make yourself a list. It will be based on how you've come to know the woman or women you call "mom."
Then take some time each day to give thanks for "mom."