When you are the one that is doing the heavy lifting, cuddling through the sickness, helping with the homework, but not the one they call mom, Mother’s Day is bittersweet. So many women out there are raising babies who don’t call them mama, but we love them just the same as the ones that grew in our womb.
Sometime’s being that person feels like being the other woman in a relationship. You are the other mother. And it’s a strange delicate situation.
I was not the mom for years. I often say I had the job but not the title.
I was the other mother raising a nephew who came from a broken background. May would come and his little backpack would be stuffed to the brim with Mother’s Day crafts.
Little photos and poems and frames. Each one so sweet, but not for me. A little bit of heaviness in my heart as I put them in a gift bag.
I would pack them all together, in case his mother picked him up for Mother’s Day weekend.
We would go to the store and choose a Mother’s Day gift, something small, something sweet. That would go in the bag too.
Often I struggled, what was my role? In the long scheme of things, who am I? What does it mean to be not the mom?
I was the one there doing the heavy lifting, answering the hard questions, getting him one more glass of water at bedtime, watching careful as fevers ravaged colds and viruses of childhood. But I was still the other mother. Not Mom, not mommy, not mother.
My heart would soar as his eyes twinkled, excited to spend the day with his Mama. I knew the yearning he had to be able to live with her peacefully. A yearning for normalcy.
I grew up with that desire too, being raised by grandparents myself. I knew that ache to be wanted and loved unconditionally by the woman who gave you life.
The day really wasn’t important. It wasn’t about celebrating me. I realized the melancholy that wrecked my heart, was the knowledge that Mother’s Day was just a dream for him. Just a glimpse into what could be, but what would never come.
He’s not a little brown-eyed boy anymore. Now he is a tall brown-eyed man well on his way of making a life for himself. I’m still not mom. I’m still the Other Mother. That’s okay.
I’m the one who listened to his guitar plunking until it became almost music until it became indistinguishable from the music on the radio.
I’m the one who got to have the lion share of the giggles and the cuddles and the hugs.
And now that he is all grown up and on his own 200 mile away, I’m the one he calls.
I’m the one he calls when he needs the secret to getting my chicken just right.
I’m the one he calls when he needs advice on growing his credit.
I still text him every Mother’s Day and remind him to call his mom and wish her a happy mother’s day.
So Happy Mother’s Day to all the Other Mother’s out there. You are doing amazing. It is not about the day, it’s about the days and the years and the moments you spend with these amazing children, teaching them what unconditional motherly love really looks like.
You are a strong unbelievable woman, whose love will always be there, whether you have day where you are celebrated or not.