Sure everyone has someone who has given birth to them in order for their very existence, but does that make a mom, a mom? What about those kids that don't have a designated mom? Ones that were abandoned, or don't even have homes? Who do they celebrate? Or what about those kids that have grown up in the system because their own biological mother was unfit to properly care for them? Or those siblings that raise their younger brothers and sisters? Who do they give their macaroni necklaces to?
Every year when mother's day rolls around I grapple with this issue. Mostly because I don't have a mom in the sense of what "mom" should be defined as. I fall into the category that covers the last two questions in the above paragraph.
What I do have however, is a Grandma. Although I did not spend a lot of time living with her, she has always remained the one stable point in my life. It doesn't matter what time I call her, she's happy to hear my voice. She's encouraging, wise, kind and most of all strong. She took on the role of a parent for her grandchild - something that is not easy to do. She took me in when I needed a home. She clothed me, fed me, encouraged me to play sports and encouraged me in school. When I was sent home for housing a piercing business in the public washroom at school, got kicked out of k-mart for holding shopping cart races through the aisles and when the police came to her door when I punched a boy and broke his skateboard for calling my friend "fat" in elementary school - she didn't raise a hand to me. Not once. I never lived in fear. She dolled out consequences with a level head that were appropriate for the ridiculous thing I had done.
I was a spirited child with a crazy imagination but she always went with it. She never once caused me to question my self worth because she accepted me. It wasn't until I lived with her that I realized that a mom, is not simply the person who gives birth to you. It is the person who waits up for you and worries when you are 5 minutes late for curfew - the person who cares enough to give you a curfew, the person who is there when you need a shoulder, the person who is always interested in what you are doing and what you have to say, the person that encourages you to become a reporter by allowing herself to be subjected to "interviews" every day for two months - but most of all, it is the person who accepts and loves you for who you are and the person you will become and is proud of you.
There are many children that have grown up with the same relationship to their Grandmother, but I could never understand why it seems so difficult to find cards and items geared towards these special women for Mother's day. I am a firm believer that the special people in our lives should be celebrated every day, rather than one day a year. However it would be nice to have some representation in the Mother's day market for Grandmothers and other caregivers who deserve recognition.
It was not until I had my own children that I became aware of the concept of what a mom could be. In my own life I feel fortunate to have such a wonderful family of my own with children that show me every day in their own way that I am appreciated. While they made me a wonderful breakfast in bed, and adorned me with their cards, homemade teeshirts, and the new wicker basket for the front of my bike, I couldn't help reflecting this morning. Reflecting on how truly lucky and appreciative I am. My children have made me a better person. They have taught me the art of patience, what it means to take pleasure in what we as adults take for granted (like making our hair stick up with balloons, carpet skates and parachuting with bedsheets), they have shown me that love has no boundaries, rather it grows every day - into something I never thought could be so powerful.
All of this has been made possible for me through the love, support and guidance (even if from far) of my Grandma. She has helped me in so many ways to realize and become the woman I am today. Her unconditional love and example has allowed me to have a normal parenting base to model some of my own parenting decisions. Something I might not otherwise have gained in other foster homes.
(Wedding day makeup with Gram looking on)
So like every Mother's day before today and all those to follow - I give my macaroni necklace to Grandma.