The Other Mothers
In case you haven’t heard, the landscape of American families is changing. Blended families are the new norm. The Pew Research Center states that in 1960, 37% of households included a married couple raising their own children. More than a half-century later, just 16% of households look like that. Families today are looking less like The Cleavers and more like The Brady Bunch. (Minus, Alice, of course.)
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that more and more children are being raised by the proverbial “village.” Stepmoms, stepdads, grandparents, nannies, aunts and uncles and many others take part in “mothering” children every day of their lives. To limit a holiday to mothers merely serves to celebrate a birthing process and not a lifetime of loving, nurturing and quantifiable involvement in the lives of children. The way in which we have been taught to celebrate Mother’s Day creates a parent vs. non-parent equation where parents are gifted with the superior status.
I’ve shared openly about my own experience as a childless stepmom. It has been a choice which I made and continue to make on a daily basis. However, it does not make me any less capable of contributing to the lives of my stepchildren or any of the other children in my life, including my niece, grand nieces and grand nephew, Sunday School kids or friends’ kids whom I’m happy to share a life with. Not every woman is inclined or even physically able to be a mother. But her role as a non-parent can bear just as much fruit in the lives of the children with whom she chooses to be involved.
Society is listening to this notion in some regards. You can find a Mother’s Day card with the title “Stepmom” these days. And there’s even a movement to celebrate Stepmother’s Day the Sunday after Mother’s Day. But where does that leave those without a Hallmark card in their honor? Where’s the foster mom card? And to be candid, whether you agree with the idea of gay marriage, homosexual couples throughout the U.S. are being given the right of marriage. Where’s the card for two moms, or “my parents” on Mother’s Day? Or the mother who has lost her child?
My goal this Mother’s Day is to honor those who are mothering in my life and in the lives of my stepchildren. I’ll reach out to my stepmom mentor whose own children live states away and whose advice makes me a better stepmom. I’ll reach out to my sister because I am blessed that she gave birth to my niece. And I’ll sit amongst the crowd that includes my stepchildren’s biological mother at my stepson’s graduation ceremony and be thankful that I have the opportunity to celebrate the young man she brought into the world.
And when all of my duties for the day are done, I’ll call my own mother. She won’t feel slighted because she knows that I’ve been busy mothering, spreading love and appreciation to those who continue to mother in a world where their efforts often go unnoticed. After all, that’s the example of mothering that she passed on to me.