When Mother's Day approaches each year, I usually go down memory lane a bit. I remember my own mother who passed away in 1970 at the age of 44. I take some time to commune with her spirit and thank her for all she imparted to me before she departed this earth.
I also think of my own children and the wonderful experience I have had being their mother. There are so may cheesy yet true cliches that run through my head when I wander down that path.
What came to my mind this morning as I once again saw Mother's Day marked on my calendar were the OTHER-Mothers I have had, and have been. The many fulfilling experiences I have had with mothers and children who were not "my own."
I will start with a brief acknowledgment of the most commonly thought of OTHER-Mother, the stepmother. The stepmother is often cast in dark light as depicted in fairy tales. I have had extensive personal experience with this role: three stepmothers of my own, two stepchildren, and also, a stepmother to my own children. I could write a letter, I could write a song, I could write a book about that subject (and I may someday).
For today, I will simply say that being a stepmother is one of the most challenging roles I have ever had. Luckily, it has been hugely rewarding as well. I am blessed to have had two wonderful humans added to my family life. I also want to send out a great big "thank you" to the stepmother of my own children for being a loving presence in their lives.
Then there are the 'In-Law' OTHER-Mothers. Just like stepmothers, mothers-in-law tend to get a bad rap. My own mother-in-law has been an example to me, in so many ways, of how I would like to be with my own daughter-in-law (who will be joining the family soon). My mother-in-law welcomed me and my children into her family, and has consistently been a champion for my marriage. Thanks Dorothy!
Finally, there are those OTHER-Mothers who come into our lives through OTHER channels. Sometimes they are with us for life, other times it is just for one very important chapter. They are those OTHER-Mothers who love and guide us in a way our own mothers can't. They bring a perspective to us, about us, that is so powerful, precious and nourishing.
For me one such OTHER-Mother is my aunt Donna who has stayed in touch and supported me through many different stages of my adult life.
I have had the privilege of being this kind of OTHER-Mother to many children over the years and it has enriched my life immeasurably. A lovely girl from the Netherlands who lived with us as an exchange student and turned 18 under my care; three boys from China who were away from their mothers and their country for the first time ever; a nephew who has been a joy to love and watch grow up from my 'OTHER-Mother' vantage point; and, a delightful little girl whom I get to PLAY with nowadays, who brings out the little girl in me.
Another one of my 'OTHER-mother' children, whom I have loved since she was born, is due to have her first child in a couple of months and I will soon be an unofficial OTHER-Grandmother!
On this Mother's Day, I say "THANK YOU" to all those children I have been the OTHER-Mother to. It is in the role of OTHER-Mother that I have been able to enjoy all the positive aspects of mothering without the ultimate responsibility!
To all of you who are OTHER-Mothers, or who have OTHER-Mothers of this stripe, I encourage you to take a moment to cherish this very special role. Give yourself a hand for stepping up to be a part of a child's life. Let your OTHER-Mothers know what they have meant to you.
"Happy Mother's Day" to all the mothers and OTHER-Mothers in the world!