Mother of All Days

I don’t want to blindside anyone with this news, but Mother’s Day is this Sunday.

I read a tweet a few days ago from a woman who said that she was “taking heat” for tweeting that Mother’s Day was “a time to celebrate bio, birth, adoptive, step and all the other kinds of mothers in your life.”  WTF?   Ok, barring the slim possibility that her heat-throwers have a full team of only crazy women in their lives, none of whom provide ANY kind of loving, caring, nurturing support, these folks must be out to lunch.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:

GIVING BIRTH DOES NOT ALWAYS MAKE YOU A MOTHER, AND MOTHERS DON’T ALWAYS GIVE BIRTH.

Many women can and do give birth, but does that instantly qualify them as a mother?  Are women who have never given birth disqualified from the title?  Just how do we define “mother” anyway?

I answered that woman’s tweet with this:  “ANY motherly person who contributes something of value to someone else deserves recognition.”    In other words, the title of “mother” is not exclusively owned by those who give birth.

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I am a mother.  I adopted my daughter.  This does not make me less of a mother than if I had given birth to her and aside from not being able to participate in pregnancy/birth/labour conversations with my own experiences, I rarely feel as though society doesn’t think of me as a mother.

Not so with my stepmother role.  I am a damned good stepmother to my stepson, who lives with us 50% of the time.   I care for him when he is sick, I help him with homework.  I hug him every day and kiss him goodnight before bed.  I encourage and support him.  I rub his back when he is sad and talk it through with him.  I listen to his sometimes not-so-interesting stories and I laugh at his tween jokes.  I play games with him and teach him life skills and lessons.  Despite having NO acknowledgement EVER from his birth mother for my efforts, I am his mom-away-from-mom.  I’m sure birth mothers whose kids have stepmoms are cringing at this description, but you’ll have to suck it up, buttercup.   On his weeks with us, she’s not there, and I am.  And I AM the closest thing to mom he’s got right in front of him.

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Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want him to call me “mom” and I’m not trying to replace his mother (nor am I suggesting all stepmoms should behave like I do).  I’m not his mom, nor do I want to be, but what I am trying to say is that I provide ALL of the same essential services as “mom”, aside from the birthing part, yet get very little of the respect and recognition that “mom” gets for exactly the same efforts.   From him, his birth mother, her family or society in general.  Somehow, because there is duplication in the mothering I give him, I am seen as less of a mother to him because I didn’t deliver him to this earth.

This needs to change.  Our society loves to throw out the “It takes a village” mantra about child-rearing, but when are we going to start to respect and appreciate the efforts of the entire village, instead of just the mother?

As Mother’s Day approaches and I mentally prepare myself to be honoured by only one of the two children that I mother, I had an idea:

Change the name from “Mother’s Day” to “Motherly Day”.

See what I just did there?  With simple wordsmithing, I removed ALL of the possessive, territorial ownership from the “mothers only” name of a special day to make it sound  far more open and inclusive of ALL women who give good mothering.  These women should get some kind of recognition too, regardless of their birthing status.

We’re ALL supercalifragilisticexpialidocious moms.  But don’t think for one second that your kid would be as awesome as he or she is without the influence of other women in that kid’s life.  Stepmoms, teachers, stepgrandmoms, babysitters, stepaunts, school secretaries, coaches, mentors,  moms of friends – there are plenty of other motherly women in your child’s life that contribute to their awesomeness, and even yours.   How great of a mom would YOU be without the support of that village?

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If you have a woman in your life or your child’s life that gives something of value – love, support, affection, encouragement – recognize her on Motherly Day.  Recognize her EVERY day.  If your child has a woman in their life that adds to your mothering , set down your ego and acknowledge that there is room for more than one person in a child’s heart.  A child will always know the difference between the mom that gave birth to them or adopted them, and the village moms who enrich their lives.   Set a good example for your child and teach him or her to appreciate people who appreciate them.

Going forward on Motherly Day (and every day) let’s all think outside of the vajayjay in terms of what defines a mother, ok?  Show your respect and appreciation for the fact that somebody cares enough about you and/or your child to want to contribute something meaningful to you both.  Respecting another woman’s efforts doesn’t minimize your own mothering, it expands it.

We’re all in this Momiverse together.

Thank you and Happy Motherly Day to my mom and the birth mothers of my children.  Without you, Motherly Day would be meaningless to me.   Thank you and Happy Motherly Day also to my BFF’s without whom my Momiverse would be empty and boring and just hard to deal with.  Thank you and Happy Motherly Day to my and my children’s support networks and to certain family members – you know who you are – who genuinely care about my children and teach them so much.   Love to you all.   xoxo 

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14 thoughts on “Mother of All Days

  1. Nice blog Jax! As always, you know that you speak for many step moms who go through the same thing as you. As a mom who is South Asian the “takes a village to raise a child” is literally true. I’ve always thought that the more people you have who love your child the more blessed you are…. here’s to all those “women” mothers or not who take care of our children as if they are their own. I salute you! Much love!

  2. As a mom of 5 super kids from a variety of methods and manners who has never given birth either I found myself nodding to everything you said! Wonderfully put and I agree wholeheartedly!!! I can’t even begin to say how much this post resonated with me. Thank you! Happy Motherly Day to you!

  3. Hi, I’m a mother of 4 kids…all by birth – from me! I respect all mothers however they came into the role. I do the best with what I have, limited resources: time, money, energy, etc.. to give my kids the best childhood they could have from their loving mother. Weeks can go by and I’m not thanked…and so it is with all mothers and we have to expect not to get a pat on the back, but it sure would be nice…when kids are little they love you lots, but they need you lots of course….if perhaps this Mother’s Day we might have a cake or something for me, I know I’ll be getting up after we eat it to clean up and wipe their mouths and whatever needs be…it will be a momentary celebration and anyhow, that’s how it goes sometimes! My 6 year old will make the biggest deal because he’s in that special age where he’ll craft something at school for me..it will be nice and I will carefully preserve it away for years to come and reflect back on it over time. Oh yeah, on Mother’s Day, it will be my baby’s 1st birthday, so the focus will be on her, and I’m ok with it! I don’t generally make an issue of what “I” need to make me feel special on Mother’s Day, because my kids need me, and will for a long time still. When we choose to be a mother, or accept the role, then all of this comes with the territory of course. So cheers to all moms of every kind and wishing you at least one day that you will be praised for who you are and what you are doing to nurture your loving children! Hopefully you get to put up your feet for awhile and enjoy! If you don’t, then just know that you will reap the rewards later…delayed gratification is always more powerful!

    • oh yeah…forgot to mention….if you do have the benefit of a ‘village’ around you to help you raise your child…you better appreciate it! So far, hubby and I have been doing all ourselves because of personal circumstances….so let’s also not beat up on birth mothers who would really like to have that advantage and would very much appreciate it!

      • L – I don’t think anyone is beating up on birth mothers… in fact I celebrate the ones who gave birth to my kids… I have 5 very special gifts that came from the 4 various women. There are birth/step/adoptive moms who are great and others who are not… I took the gist of the article being about ALL moms being important 🙂

      • I appreciate all the comments and love the conversation! I definitely was NOT beating up on anyone and just want to clarify that my blog post was about paying respects to ALL women (or even men) who provide motherly support to moms and/or their children. Hopefully everyone can think of someone in their life that gives something of value to them or their children?

  4. I agree with most of what you said. But PLEASE don’t refer to moms who are in their kids lives as birth moms. A birth mom has either given up her child or abandoned them. Your stepson’s MOM has done neither.

    • Thanks for your comment. The term “birth mother” was used in my blog to contrast that one woman gives birth and mothers the child, but the other woman (the stepmother) ALSO mothers the child, in my case (I can’t and won’t speak for all stepmoms, and I do acknowledge that not ALL stepmoms mother their stepkids as well as their birth mothers do). The point being is that we BOTH are motherly to my stepson and the fact that I didn’t give birth to him doesn’t make my contribution less meaningful or valuable simply because I didn’t give birth to him. It was not meant as disrespect to his birth mother or any other mothers who have stepmoms in their kids’ lives.
      Since we are on the topic of semantics, I do need to clarify for you that in the case of adoption, birth moms do not “give up” or “abandon” their children. Women who make an adoption plan (politically correct terminology) are often dealing with very difficult situations – physical or mental illness, addiction, poverty, abuse. They usually decide to make adoption plans (yes, leaving a baby in front of an orphanage IS an adoption plan, as they know the baby will be found and cared for) as the ultimate mothering sacrifice – to give their child a better life than they know they can provide. The terms “giving up” and “abandoning” denote a lack of concern for the child, which is almost never the case for birth mothers – they make adoption plans because they DO care. Using that terminology around children who have been adopted makes them feel unwanted and rejected, and nobody wants to do that. Of course there will always be exceptions to these statements (babies found in dumpsters, etc) but generally, a birth parent does want what is best for a child. Thanks for your feedback, Happy Motherly Day to you and your Momiverse!

      • I want to clarify that when i said abandon, i wasn’t referring to adoption. I was thinking where the child’s mother has left and chosen another guy or drugs over her child…may not have been the best choice of words. In the case of your stepson…unless his mother made an adoption plan or is otherwise out of the picture she is his mom…no qualifiers needed. I hope it wasn’t your intent but i have seen many stepmoms use the term birth mother as a negative…like calling the father a sperm donor.

        I’m sorry for any offense caused by referring to an adoption plan as giving up a child..
        I didn’t like the way it soumded but didn’t know what terminology to use.

    • Hi ThisIsMe – no worries! Sometimes with “alternative” families (also not an ideal description for blended/adoptive/transracial families!) it is hard to find just the right word that is 100% appropriate, trust me, I struggle with this all the time with my writing! Sadly, there ARE some fathers who are only “sperm donors” and unfortunately, even some birth mothers that fit that bill as “egg donors” only, for lack of a better description. I try not to generalize, as I do feel the majority of parents are trying to do right by their kids, each in their own way, and judgement is the last thing any of us needs because ANY kind of parenting is hard enough, right? : ) Thanks for your clarification, no offense taken, I’m always happy to respond to anyone who wants to discuss my blogs or the subjects they’re about! Cheers : )

  5. I agree wholeheartedly with what you said Jax. I (unfortunately) never had the “village”, am very jealous of those that do, and certainly would have welcomed it. But I do have something to add (and here I am going to go out on a limb and possibly incur a lot of negativity, but it is how I feel)…how about we change Fathers Day to “Fatherly Day” as well? My children never had their dad in their life and yet there were two very special men that helped be Fatherly to them. My amazing and wonderful boyfriend of 6 years has welcomed my children into his life even though he has never had the experience of being a “father” himself and provided the same love that you provided to your “son”. So if we change one, can we not change both? Let’s honour ALL those fantastic amazing people out there that provide love and support to ALL our children no matter what their sex is!
    Happy Motherly Day to all those amazing wonderful women out there and next month – Happy Fatherly Day to all those amazing wonderful men out there.

    • Kudos for you and your mothering! Are you sure you never had even a mini-village or one special person in your Momiverse? No teachers, coworkers, relatives, friends, anyone in your life or your kids’ lives that gave you or them something that enhanced your mothering? Sometimes it’s hard to see these people at first glance, but I’m so glad that you recognize the contributions of your partner! And HELL YES! we should change Father’s Day to Fatherly Day, as well! Works for both sides!

  6. Since last year, I decided we were going to celebrate Mother’s Day and Women’s Day on the same day & recognize the women in our family, not just the Moms. My little ones & I have crafted simple homemade goodies to give them (art and/or baked goods). Some of my sisters may not be mothers but they are AMAZING women and deserve to be celebrated!
    We also do something similar on Father’s Day for the men in our lives 🙂

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