Today, if we are lucky enough to still have our mothers with us, we celebrate their role in our lives with them. If they’ve passed on, we take the time to remember them. In reflecting on Mother’s Day, I can say that I actually had three mothers. As unusual as that sounds initially, I suspect that many will connect with my willingness to credit other non-biological “mothers” as having profound influence on my life.
My mother was a professional women in a time when most women were managing the household. That was the default role of married women more than a half century ago. She was actually the breadwinner in our house and because she commuted to work, leaving the house early and arriving in time for supper, I really didn’t see much of her. There was no going home from school at noon to have her there with lunch ready. No after school cookies either. She didn’t read me a story at bedtime. My mother wasn’t into the PTA or the cub scouts like other moms of kids I grew up with. She never cooked a meal. That was my father’s job. She expected me to always do what was right and to never embarrass her. To say that I had a pretty strict regimen to follow is an understatement. For my mother a grade of “B” in any school subject was never good enough. “You can do better,” she would say when I brought my report cards home. She instilled in me a discipline and a sense of responsibility that has served me well in life. I believe that in her own way, she loved me but I was never really sure.
My mother had two sisters and they supplemented her guidance, providing me with real love and direction. The younger sister was my Godmother and it was she that I always went to when I wanted to discuss personal issues. She had no children of her own but she understood kids. I could bring up just about anything with her. She answered my questions without judgment letting me know that she understood why I often had conflicted feelings about things in my life. She was a sympathetic sounding board and a wise counsel when I was very young and it continued as I matured into a husband and a father.
My mother’s other sister was older. A very simple woman without much education, she was the one who showed me complete and unfailing love. As a young child, I spent more time with her than I did with my mother. She treated me like her own son. In college, I lived with her for more than a year as I commuted to school. I never heard her say a bad word about anyone. Later, when I had my children, she was the one who gave them just as much loving attention as she had given me. They loved her as much as I did. She was indeed special.
So I think it is possible to have more than one mother. I know I had three. And I know that I am the beneficiary of things that I gained from each one of them. All three contributed to who I am and I remember them today for that.