A Tribute To My "Mothers" (that didn't know they were)
Chances are, besides your Mom, there has been at least one other female figure in your life that has been influential along the way. "Mothers" come in all shapes, sizes and relationships. And while we spend our formative years at home, it is sometimes those relationships outside the home that form us most.
I was the baby of a large family of six children. While I was well aware money was tight (to say the least), I never felt not cared for. Somehow, on zero budget my mother still made the ends find each other and taught us all the good life lessons in having that skill. She did what no money can - she loved. And I am forever grateful for that foundation.
But this story is focused more on the women who helped shape me AFTER that foundation was laid.
circa 1988. GG thought watching one toddler was not challenging enough. So she took on a newborn, too. Nbd.
As a young freshly-divorced mom, I found myself in a huge pickle. I HAD to work, but I also HAD no money to afford childcare. My children's Great Grandmother that we called GG stepped right up and offered (ok, begged) to watch the kids for me every day. AT 74 years of age! The bonds between GG and my kids were unbreakable and the love and respect I cultivated for her grew with every passing day. She worked her schedule around them and included them anywhere she could, sharing her church life and all her little old lady friends with them. Long after she was needed for the daily care taking, she still persisted to be an active part of all of our lives. Even after both of my babies were up and out of the nest, she and I nurtured our very close relationship. I would go help her with shopping and banking and doctor appointments and she would help me with delightful stories and wisdom from her 90+ years of life. Her VERY simplistic approaches to resolving struggles goes through my mind at least once every single day. Did I mention it was HER grandson I was divorced from? She was the most non-judgmental human being I have ever known. Last week GG and all her friends were partying up in Heaven for her 105th birthday.
circa 2010. Joyce was one of the coolest people I've ever known. I wanna be just like her when I grow up.
When I met and married my current husband, I was quickly smitten and impressed with his Aunt that had taken him in as a child and raised him. The mother figure in his life, who technically was my mother-in-law, also became my extremely special friend. Before moving here, I would take trips from California to Texas to visit Aunt Joyce ~ sometimes with the kids, sometimes by myself, but only once or twice was my husband (her blood) actually able to join us. Didn't matter. She and I would giggle it up and traipse all over Dallas, finding all our interests were the same! She introduced me to The Arboretum, some of the best shopping, and most importantly where to find the greatest desserts! Our conversations ran deep and over the years, we confided in each other like two 4th graders pinky-swearing on the playground. Her backstory and its' various tales captivated me. She too, showed me the importance of treating everybody equally and not holding any grudges. It was my honor and privilege to have known Joyce, and being beside her as she drew her final breath (emotionally hard as it was) somehow gave me such peace. She knew exactly what she was doing, right up to the end.
circa 2018. My sister, my friend, my idol.
My Sister, who was the #2 in our family of six kids, had to put up with 4 brothers before I came along. She says she used to ask for a sister for her birthday every year! haha Even though we are thirteen years and three states apart, we are thick as thieves. I was still in kindergarten when she moved out, so truly we only lived together a few years. But if you look at our friendship now, you would think she was bottom bunk, I was top. She was just enough ahead of me to have already been through every parenting situation, that it was like I had my own personal How-to book. And even if I didn't come right out and ask her how to deal with kid issues, I've modeled my ways (in parenting, but mostly life in general) to try and be more like her. She's witty, organized, disciplined, a perfect wife, and trust me.... on making a home - Martha Stewart got nothin' on this woman!! The miles between Texas and Arizona matter not, and between emails, phone calls and visits, we still get in plenty of sister time! But even better, FRIEND time!
The big takeaway from all three of these influencers in my life is that strength and kindness are a woman's greatest legacy. So while yes, Mother's Day is a time we all celebrate the Mom in our life, I like to include those that have been LIKE a mom to me. There's a handful of other females (many younger than me) that I also look up to currently. Without them probably realizing it, they inspire me daily (thanks to Instagram) with their business endeavors and how they manage the whole work slash have-a-life balance thing. Oopsy Daisy is my full-time baby for now. And with so much life advice from my "Mom" mentors (those here and gone), hopefully Daisy girl and her "family" will be proud of me one day, too.
Happy Mother's Day!!