It is that time of year again; the most controversial for someone like me. MOTHER’S DAY! Yes, I am celebrated on mother’s day because, well… I am a mother. No, I did not get to do the part where I get a fat belly, have this amazing moment with my husband where we bring new life into the world that is part me and part him and we cry with joy and then go home to spend the next several years sleep deprived and grumpy, but so in love with this snuggly little mini version of us. Instead, I got to get a fat belly due to the stress of growing boys evolving into men who cost twice as much to feed, to school and to house. The sleep deprivation came in when they started driving and when they started “going out” and ignoring curfew. And don’t worry, my husband and I do get those glorious moments to cry together, but it isn’t always tears of joy as the older the boys get the more they have their own thoughts and words regarding our parenting style and how unfair we are. So you see, I have experienced everything you have and if you have not yet experienced these stages, consider that your warning!
In all seriousness, I tend to cover the Mother’s Day topic each year because I know there are moms out there that married into their role, or became moms through adoption, or simply via stepping up when a family member stepped out on their children. Whatever the reason and however we got here, we are all mothers to children that need us and biology will never change that. I have spent the last six almost seven years of my life being a partner to my husband who has been raising two boys alone. Even before we were together he would consult me regarding his sons and what might be the best thing for them. He has never treated me like a stepparent or ever uttered negative words to me regarding biology. We fight about punishments and rewards and the day-to-day parenting decisions, just like any other married/ biological parents. So what makes us any different than anyone else? In our eyes, we are no different than anyone else.
Our situation is not traditional, but it is more common than people realize and it is a lot harder than anyone wants to talk about. The reason I tend to be so passionate about the roles of mothers and who “plays” them is because of the judgment that has come from so many women that think biology outweighs every other part of the equation when it comes to motherhood. I am not sure why the same standards are not set for fathers, but for some reason, society says that a biological mother can have one million chances to ruin the life of their child, but a biological father need not even be mentioned on a birth certificate. I am here to tell you that it is just as easy for a mother to walk away from her child as it is for a father to walk away. If it weren’t, why are their so many babies in the adoption system? Why are their so many children in need of fathers AND mothers?
Further more, why is it that when a woman with children gets divorced, all anyone talks about is finding a man that is good to her children? But when a man gets divorced, that man is supposed to find a woman that could care less about his children? If I were a man that chose to take on a women’s children and I taught the boys to fish and I showed up at their baseball games or took her daughter to dance class and eventually was chosen to walk her down the aisle as the father that raised her and loved her from the day we met, I’d be a sob story and a husband that every divorced woman dreams of finding!!! But because I am a woman, I am stepping on toes because someone else carried these boys in her belly.
Carrying children is just a matter of biology, but being a mother is much more than that. Contrary to popular belief, the “mama bear” instinct does not always kick in after giving birth and you do not have to give birth to suddenly acquire the instinct. Baring a child does not give you a free pass or earn you a guarantee. You still have to show up and be a parent. You have to be hated sometimes. You have to struggle to pay the tuition and you have to find time in the day to run them back and forth to school and practice and the gym. You have to stay up all night wondering where they are when they miss curfew and won’t answer their phone. You have to cry when they get their heart broken for the first time, even though you are secretly happy because you knew she was no good for him. You have to do 10 loads of laundry a day because they are a mess and you have to go to the grocery store 3 times a week because they are growing boys who eat everything. You have to stand in line at parent/ teacher conference hoping that your kid is the good kid in class (and he always is.) You have to overthink whether or not they are ready for their license and whether or not you are ready to let them go. You have to fight with their father because figuring out the right thing is hard. You have to cry when you miss a baseball game and he’s called in to pitch for the first time that season. You have to wake up when you’ve already gone to bed just to check their paper because they waiting until midnight to tell you that it is due the next day and you have to feel that relief when they come home and want to talk to you about their problems. You have to consistently lecture them about the real world and what life will be like after graduation to the point that they roll their eyes every time you open your mouth and you have to deal with their grumpy attitude in the morning (and the afternoon and the evening!) These are examples of what it is to be a parent; a mom or a dad. Biology has nothing to do with that and the right anatomy and working “lady parts” cannot turn you into something that you are not.
Our youngest is about to finish his junior year of high school. We are college shopping this summer, talking about graduation and the lasts of everything he will do at this stage of life. I am like every other mother in this stage. I cry thinking about this kid leaving my husband and I and having an empty nest for the first time in our relationship. It doesn’t matter how much time you get with anyone in life. It matters how much love you have for them and how much they have influenced your life. That is not just the case with children but with any relationship. For me, I have not had nearly enough time but I am holding on for dear life, just like the rest of the moms out there.
I have insecurities that stretch far beyond the normal “mom” challenges, but I remind myself, just like I remind my friends that are parents, that if I am doing my best and I am present and there for my child, then I’m doing great! I meet my fair share of haters along the way; the moms that will try to make me more insecure. I know that the insecurity they are projecting is more about them then it is about me. Women need to stop thinking that every person that births a child is just like them and stop thinking that every woman that loves your child is trying to take your place. Every situation is different and sometimes it is okay for children to love multiple women and have a few strong female role models. Everyone has two biological contributors that brought them into this world, but not everyone has a mom, or a dad for that matter. No matter what the situation is, you should be thankful that there is someone there to love your child when you aren’t able to, when you don’t know how to, or even when you are right next to them. Mothers are something that every child needs and they come in many different shapes, sizes and roles. I am grateful everyday that I got thrown into this role and even though there’s so much judgment, I know there are a lot more people out there just like me; taking care of children that they did not plan to have but fell in love with and everyday we choose to take care of them and to me, that is a mother!