With this month being Mother’s Day, I was thinking a lot about other mother figures in our lives who we should celebrate during this time. While I don’t yet have children, I am an Auntie to many of my friend’s kids. In fact, anyone who knows me well knows I refer to my best friend’s daughter as my niece (always begging the question from strangers of oh is that your brother kid and having to explain the situation), and I’ve always been Auntie Amanda to her. I even lived with them for a year and a half, from when she was 15 months old to almost three, so I got to experience first-hand helping with parenting a child who is not biologically mine and spending more sleepless nights with her than even her Father did during that time. While I am not her mother and not a mother at all just yet, I think it’s important to honor those mother figures in our lives who may not be the ones you call Mom but can be just as important and sometimes even more in your life. Also, as I often see with blended families and those who might be single mothers after a divorce, or by choice is takes a village to raise children, and there is hopefully a host of a mother (and father, but that’s for next month when we talk about fathers) figures in your child(ren)’s life who helps you through it all.
Thinking back on my own life, there were and continue to be many mother figures in my life that I want to share about, starting when I was a baby and continuing to this day. The first was the woman who took care of me when my parents went back to work, who was a second mother to me for many years. She watched me before she had her own children and then watched my brother and me once she did have her own daughter. For many years, Janice was in our lives, even after she stopped watching us and we moved to Arizona. I remember Janice taking me everywhere with her and remember times spent at her home in Staten Island with her Mom making Italian food. Apparently, I even once had ashes on my forehead when she took me with her to church on Ash Wednesday (we’re Jewish, so that was a first and only for me). I can imagine that having someone like that in our lives made my Mom that much more comfortable returning to work after she had me, knowing that I was well taken care of, and to me, Janice was another mother figure in my life; another woman who loved me like I was her own daughter before she had children of her own.
I lost my grandmother before I was seven years old, and she was, in fact, the only grandparent I ever knew since the others had passed away even before I was born. For the time she was in my life, my grandmother and I were very close, and I was so sad to have lost her then and still wish she’d been in my life longer. However, her sister, my great Aunt Bea, lived to be 95, only passing away in 2016, and she stepped in to take over my grandmother’s role and be there for me. I visited her and her husband every summer after we left the east coast, even flying by myself when I was barely eight years old to visit with them. They lived in Levittown, PA (where she remained until she died) and I remember going to the diners with them, watching old musicals, and just spending time with her and my great uncle. Up until her death, I remember birthday cards, phone calls, and visits to see her throughout the years as she was basically a grandmother to me and, I’m sure, a second mother to my dad as well.
The second mother that’s been a part of my life the longest is most certainly my best friends’ mom, who is still a large part of my life. My best friend, Parisa, and I met when we were in Taekwondo together and have known each other now for almost 26 years (wow, I feel old saying that), and well, I’ve known her family, including her Mom, for just as long. Taekwondo was one of those sports that you did with people of all ages, and while for my family it was just my brother and I (and then just me once Todd decided he didn’t want to do it anymore) for my friend, her whole family participated became black belts and competed in the tournament. Early on, after my brother stopped doing Taekwondo, I would often travel with Parisa and her family to tournaments in Las Vegas and Little Rock since my parents didn’t always want to go.
We became fast friends and are still to this day (her daughter is my niece I mentioned above, and we live 3 doors down from them), and our families also became friends. Her mom became a second mom to me throughout the years, and I knew I could always talk to her about anything going on in my life and still do! Sometimes, especially as a teenager, I found because she wasn’t actually my mother that I could talk to her easier without getting into the huge fights that I would sometimes have with my mom. I remember when I was 16 and got into my first fender bender, I called her before I called my own parents not just because she was the closest since I was only a few minutes from getting to their house but also because I knew she would be angry at me the same way parents can be when their children get into an accident (after of course making sure they’re ok). To this day, I value her advice, and as I go through challenges in my own life that need another perspective, I often turn to her for help. I also hope to be that person for my niece and be there for her whenever she needs someone that isn’t Mom.
This Mother’s Day, I will be celebrating my Mom and the many other mother figures in my life and hope that my future children are as lucky as I am to have more than mother figures in their life. Just because a child may not be biologically yours doesn’t mean that you can’t provide that to them.
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by: Amanda Singer