Let’s honor those who may not have taken a traditional path to motherhood, but helped raise, influence or love a child.
I know there are those that scoff at the commercialization of Mother’s Day or the forced sentimentalization. Though it’s a celebratory day for most, it’s also a day tinged with grief for those that have lost their mothers, women who aren’t moms by choice or infertility, mothers who have buried children or those who’ve experienced damaging childhoods.
I get it. In the 70s as a sixth grader who just lost my mom, I dreaded Mother’s Day. The question, “What are you doing for Mother’s Day?” prompted anxiety. While everyone was making Mother’s Day cards in class, I wasted time. My siblings and I felt alone and tended to ignore the holiday with an exception of a cemetery visit.
Despite my experience, I’ve grown to enjoy Mother’s Day. Our calendars should be slotted with a day to celebrate motherhood. I agree that all mothering, whether biological or spiritual, should be honored. Writer, Anne Lamott beat down the concept of Mother’s Day in one of her essays and I agree with her that it is not only a biological parent that can reach “a level of love and self-sacrifice,” so here I share with you my list of unsung heroes who deserve recognition on Mother’s Day:
- Aunts. Blood or honorary, many aunts have taken children under their wings by spending time with them or tending to their needs during troubled times. Love to all my aunts!
- Teachers. The ultimate nurturer, their job goes beyond teaching, touching lives in positive ways. Miss O’Farrell if you are out there, thanks for printing my poem in our class yearbook and making me believe I could write.
- Siblings. Siblings often fall into the role of caretaker, whether naturally or due to need. Here’s a shoutout to my brother who, at 10 years my senior, often guided my sister and me.
- Neighbors. For all those neighborhood “moms” who keep an eye out for the kids, bake cookies or simply share a kind word, a celebratory wish is in order.
- Your Friend’s Mom. If my daughters’ friends needed me, I would be there in a heartbeat. Love to my best friend’s mom who drove us everywhere and taught us to be brave.
- Cousins. Spending time with younger cousins, caring about their life, sharing interests… cousins are often so much more than playmates.
- Foster Parents. The unsung heroes for so many needy children.
- Grandmothers. Many a wise grandmother has helped raise a child. I’ll never forget my grandmothers who came to this country as young mothers, and though they never worked outside the home, their work was cause for celebration. They were forever the glue that held our families together.
- Mothers-in-Law. Thanks for the jokes Rodney Dangerfield, but many of us have been doubly blessed. The years I lost with my own mother, I gained with a mother-in-law who taught me how to make chicken soup, was there for me when I had my babies and showed me the value of tradition.
- Dads. If you are being raised or were raised by two dads or a single dad, you were mothered (love that verb)!
- Spiritual Mothers. If you have a coworker or a special friend who listens and has always been there for you – I would say a sappy Hallmark card is in order.
I’m sure there’s more to add to this list but my advice is to honor and acknowledge someone special in your life, who may not have taken a traditional path to motherhood, but helped raise, influence or love you as a child.
Vilma is a freelance writer who can be found at That Girl is Back celebrating who she is as she journeys through midlife. This post was originally featured there.