I have lots of feelings about Mother’s Day as a step-parent. I am always blown away by how emotional I am on this day. Just to be clear, I don’t have a traumatic history with Mother’s Day. I have friends who have lost mothers, whether they have passed away or were never present or simply too mentally unstable and unable to parent. Other friends have adopted. I have friends who can’t get pregnant and desperately want to. I know this day is fraught with emotion.
My mother is wonderfully supportive, kind, fun, and fiercely loyal. She’s given me some of the best parts of me. I love her dearly and always try to do something nice for her on Mother’s Day if we’re able to be together. This year was a fun card, wild flowers (purchased not picked!), pedicures followed by lunch with my other siblings. She sent me photos throughout the week as the flowers continued to bloom into different stages. A happy memory yet still, I moped.
I know I’m not alone. I’m not a biological parent and I may never be and I acknowledge that could be part of it. My two step-kids always spend Mother’s Day with their mom, as they should. They love their mom, and I don’t resent that for a second.
I also don’t expect anything for Mother’s Day. I let them do their thing. Last year our 9 year old blurted out “but when is step-mother’s day?” Bless his little heart. Surprisingly, there is such a day after a quick Google search and it’s ‘officially,’ the Sunday after Mother’s day. This year, we celebrated step mom day for the first time and we’re 6 years in. It was sweet. Others find a special day some other time during the year to celebrate and call it something different. To each their own. I received a homemade card from our 13 year old, entitled ‘Belle-Mere.’ Me, belle! I love the French! Whether it’s bought, made, thought of or forgotten, I FEEL all the feelings! I actually REALLY enjoy being a mother. I’ve come to own that term. I mother.
“But when mother is a verb – as in to be mothered and to mother — ah, then the very best of human possibilities come into our imaginations. And we are all able to mother, whatever our sex or our age or our abilities” – Gloria Steimman’s taking on Mother as Verb.”
Making lunches and folding laundry is almost a daily occurrence. There are grass stains that need to be removed from white baseball uniforms. I give hugs when needed and crack jokes hoping for smiles and laughter. I remind them of homework assignments, make sure they do their chores (the very tiny amount of them), limit screen time, listen to their stories, trials, and tribulations because as we know, they grow up way too fast. We get memory reminders on Facebook and I marvel at how little they were this time last year at Opening Day of Little League. We pass by the photos on our walls broadcasting the many stages of their lives. The baby faces, the gapped and missing teeth, the straight hair to curly hair, the fun poses, the many adventures to national parks and local beaches.
Time goes by fast and I don’t regret a single second of having these two people in my life. I am grateful and overflowing with love and pride and awe. My husband is an amazing father and it’s a joy to raise his kids with him. We don’t get everything right but we get a lot of it right.
Yet… and yet…tears were shed on this year’s Mother’s Day just like I did last year while on a gorgeous hike in Camden on the side of a mountain overlooking the ocean. I bawled. My husband quietly let me grieve and we hiked on. I got a hug at the top and we enjoyed the rest of the day. It can be really freaking hard. “It’s a hard knock life,” we like to proclaim in our household and then we break into song Annie style. Sometimes its appreciated, most of the time it is not. There are days when I don’t enjoy it very much and think, “buttheads.” Sometimes I don’t think butthead but actually say, “Don’t be a butthead.” Yup. #winning.
So friends, fellow stepmothers, bio moms, single moms, foster parents, adoptive parents, I guess I want to say that you’re not alone. This day can sometimes suck and suck hard. It doesn’t need to be labeled or understood. I can figure out on my own why I feel so emotional on this day but I wanted to give a shout out or gentle reminder that regardless of how you feel about this day, it’s okay. Take care of yourself. Breathe, cry, laugh, get hugs but know that mothering takes on many forms and you get to define whatever form that is. I would not expect significant others including children to fill that void or make it better. It’s not up to them. Find your joy. Or don’t. Whatever it is, I’m right there with you. Here’s to Bleeping Mother’s Day!