The Woman Beyond “Mom”

My second Mother’s Day without my stepmom is here. It is one of the busiest days of the year at the restaurant I work at and after losing Lou to ovarian cancer last year, it is one of the hardest days to get through personally. I found myself recently telling friends that it hurts but I think I’ll be OK. As it drew nearer, however, I found myself feeling differently. I found myself missing her and tears filling my eyes. I found myself restless and searching for distractions. I won’t be OK. And, I don’t have to be. Grief is a turbulent, reoccurring storm that leaves damage in its wake. But, over time, you learn to protect yourself in little ways. You put up safeguards in order to prepare for when the storm actually arrives. It still hurts, maybe less or maybe more, but you ride it out.

I was rather young when we moved out to Montana. At the age of 6, I was starting over in a new town, new state, and new school. I loved my stepmom dearly and am filled with beautiful memories of camping trips, car rides, and just moments of togetherness. Approaching junior high and high school though, there was a shift. I felt myself withdrawing. After I left for college, we went through a rough patch for a couple of years. Of course, I will always wish for it to have gone differently. Looking back, I was yearning for some different version of my stepmom, instead of seeing everything she already was. It took quite some time to realize that a mom can be many things and you can even have more than one. A mother is simply one who takes it upon themselves to raise a child. A mother is somebody who carries children for somebody who may be unable to. A mother may even have to give their child up in order to give them the best life possible. The definition of a mother is difficult to pinpoint because it covers so much, more than I had ever thought about before.

As I was reflecting on the past with both my stepmom and birth mom, I began to notice that I had placed my moms on pedestals. They were untouchable and unreachable, bound by terms and conditions of what I believed a mother should be. Until, one day, I made the choice to accept them both as they were and for all they had given me. Our relationships weren’t perfect but each was unique and I knew that the path of gratitude was the one I would follow. A heart of love and acceptance allowed me to see my mothers as they really are, instead of what I had envisioned they should be.

A mother is not perfect, nor would you want her to be. Her madness in the mess makes life so much more fun and magical.

A mother is not superwoman, though she makes it look like it right? She has her doubts, fears, and insecurities just like the rest of us.

A mother is not indestructible. She will break and falter at times. Words can do so much, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

And yet, she is still perfect and indestructible.  And yes, she’s even superwoman. Because for everything that she isn’t, she is still more. I wish that I had realized all of this sooner, before it was too late. That I hadn’t missed out on a couple years with her because of my pride. I’m not a mom, but I’ve been lucky enough to have two moms in this life. One of which brought me into this world, and the other whom I watched depart from here too soon.

Some of the greatest gifts, personality traits, and memories are because of my mothers. For that I will be eternally grateful. I’m blessed to have known my mothers beyond the “mom” that I know them as. To have learned their stories and absorbed their wisdom. The biggest takeaway I can offer in all of this is: Give your mom credit. Not just today but everyday. She’s done more for you in this life than you’ll ever know. Never take this time for granted that you have with her because you can’t get it back. Listen to what she teaches you. Care for her when she’s in need. And never take that love for granted, even if it isn’t how you had pictured it.

Happy Mother’s Day friends.