There are many ways to be a “mom” without giving birth.
I have stepdaughters, foster daughters and bonus daughters who have no other mothers and call me mom. I have daughters I built in my womb and I have my daughter’s children, who were the eggs inside of her while she was inside me.
Like Russian stacking dolls.
A mother creates life and brings it into the world. She might care for her child, nurse him, feed him, teach him, keep him safe or she might not. A mother births a life. A mom nurtures it. There is honor in both but they are not necessarily the same.
As a mother, I brought two children into the world. I became a mother when I had sex and made a person. I then chose to grow that person, so I ate well and kept my body strong, while I was manufacturing them. I took B-12 and gave up vegetarianism when my iron was low. I walked two miles a day, drank tea and did yoga. I created humans and carried them until they came screaming forth from my mother body. I did that—I was a mother.
As a mom I changed 1000s of diapers and nursed for hours on end.
I caught hundreds of ladybugs and made countless fried eggs. I read Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter and Shel Silverstein until I had each word memorized. I followed footprints in the mud and went on carnival rides that made me sick. I bought pink sparkling cowboy boots and polka dot tights and fruit leather and gummy vitamins and purple hair ties.
I went on field trips to the science center and the skating rink that smelled like sweaty kid feet and I kissed thousands of bumps bruises and scratches. I watched Dora, Barney and Hannah Montana until I thought I would go insane.
I bought dresses for formal dances and sex-ed books and did laundry and I wiped break-up tears. I went to Planned Parenthood and Vegas and concerts and lent out my clothes, my car and my credit cards. I let other peoples children move into my house and they called me Mom.
I received a lot of criticism while my daughters were young.
I was told to be more of a parent and less a friend.
I was told to be more strict, with more harsh consequences, punishments and a more firm hand, but I chose to raise my kids in the way that felt authentic to me. Today, my grown and nearly grown daughters are my best friends and they are having children of their own.
As I watch my daughter, my stepdaughter and my two foster-daughters becoming mothers, building families of their own, I am reminded that mothering takes many forms and there as as many ways to be a mom as there are moms.
My adult daughter helps to raise her 14-year-old sister, my youngest. She always has. While she is not her mother she plays an unconventional mother roll on a daily basis. My youngest helps to raise my granddaughter and while she is not her mother, she plays an unconventional mother roll in the very same way her sister “mothers” her.
I know men who are raising children alone and performing the rolls of both mother and father.
There are young women, old women and women everywhere in between, who are good mothers, not so good mothers and everything in between and they all deserve to be honored for bringing forth life and for raising people and everything in between.
Mother, mom, sister, friend—regardless of the situation or the biological connection the women who nurture and listen, laugh, teach, protect and love our young girls and help them grow into strong, confident healthy women, who will do the same for the next generation should all be appreciated and recognized on Mother’s Day and every day.
It is an honor to be a mother and and even greater honor to watch my daughters become mothers and moms.
So, here’s to all the moms out there. May they keep up the good work and know their worth while they are doing it.
Author: Kimby Maxson
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock