I started this post a week ago, but life intervened and has been full steam every since. It’s that kind of spring.
Years ago I came to dread Mother’s Day, not because I had to come up with a gift idea for my mother, but because I was a stepmother and the day seemed designed to rub my face in the fact that, although I mothered, I was not considered a real mom by much of the world.
How our world has changed in the last two decades. I am not saying stepmothers have lost their evil fairy tale image or that they are universally recognized as parents who contribute to their children’s upbringing. Our society does, however, recognize a wider variety of family structures.
Very importantly, my stepchildren are adults. And so, finally, I think am I.
Our oldest shared Mother’s Day with me via text, but it was early in the morning.
Our second oldest called and left a voice mail, but the next day she gave me a card in which she referred to me as a mother. Not the mother, but a mother. I felt like an a ten-year-old girl who finally gets the pony she always wanted for her birthday.
My oldest biological child gave me a card that “Dad made me go get” and my youngest made the highlight of my morning by aging a character in her Sim game to include forehead wrinkled, crow’s feet, and laugh lines so it would like like me.
All those years I was hypersensitive to what I saw as my stepchildren’s slightsEmbed from Getty Images
and, what slights there were either came from their being kids or were born of the horrid competitive atmosphere I helped create. What I was missing was that every mom’s Mother’s Day is awful–awful gifts, awful breakfasts, awful stress, awful expectations. I was also missing that every mom’s Mother’s Day is awesome–awesome that someone loves you enough to try to live up to unrealistic expectations of showing all of their appreciation all day one day a year when really their thanks comes in rare beautiful moments–when your teenage son squeezes into the rocking chair next to you when there are open seats in the living room–when your daughter throws her arms around your waist and says you’re the best–when your son says “I should have listened to you guys years ago”–when your daughter sends you ridiculous snapchats because she knows you’ll get the joke and won’t think she’s a dork.
Mother’s Day is still not my favorite day. Most of us expect too much of it. But Mother’s Day is no longer one of my dreaded days, either. Like all days, it’s what you make of it. Everyone else–ex-wives, mothers-in-law, haters of various types–they only have the power you give them. Does that make me an adult?