Tag Archives: motherhood

“If your mom was a super hero, what would her super power be?”

This year our bloggers wanted to know what their children’s responses would be to “If your mom was a super hero, what would her super power be?” Here are some of the responses:

Crystal

So, asking your kid “if I was a super hero, what would my super powers be?” opens up a dialogue I think every parent should have with their kid(s). My 9 year old son’s answers were both, by turns, eyebrow raising, laughter-inducing, and tear-jerking when I realized how impressed he is by the simple things I do every day. I think we both came away from our chat with an even bigger appreciation for each other.

Also, as a note, should people think this was easy, it took my kid 3 days to bother thinking about the question, and then the threat being unable to continue his video game should he not throw me a bone. So no, he isn’t quite as perfect as these answers are going to make him sound.

My super powers were:

1) Super strength-because when he comes home every day he lauches himself at me and I can still catch him with one arm.

2) Super human computer abilites-because I “know how to do everything on a laptop”

3) The ability to fix ANYTHING- I put a memory card in his smart watch and was sewing something at the time.

And my favourite:

4) The ability to stare down a villain until they tell the truth. Oh God that one made me laugh. Pretty self explanatory that one.

Laura

My daughter says: “Teleportation, because she’s never late.”

My son says: “The super power of infinite hugs.”

Holly

My four year old said that my super power would be, “Moana”. I don’t even know what that means… Lol!

Roxy

3 1/2 year-old Kayla says, “Elsa. You need to be Elsa!!! Elsa got powers. Blue powers that froze Anna’s heart.”

Brande

“My moms super power is knowing what I’ve done, from the things I don’t say.”

Autumn

My 9 year-old son Jesse says “To give people lots more health and to have more health for you too. To give health whenever you touch somebody.” My 6 yr old Savannah says ” To stick on the wall and lazer eyes and other thing too..let me fink…electrocute hands and one more thing o.k…o.k…ummm Speedy.” lololol I am sure going to be busy as a super hero!! I better go get some sleep! hahahaa

Happy Mother’s Day

Why I participated in the Women’s March

Nicki

My daughter asked me to write a blog post on why I participated in the Women’s March organized by the YWCA here in Niagara, which was in tandem with hundreds of marches around the world on January 21st.

While I talked about standing in solidarity with my American sisters, I want her to know I did it for her, I did it for the other women in our family, especially for my granddaughters.

Especially for my granddaughters.

I did it especially for my granddaughters because I don’t want them to experience the blatant discrimination I often experienced while growing up in the 70’s and on through the last forty years. I don’t want them to ever second guess their ability and how it measures up to a man. I want them to grow up feeling 100% equal to any man, period.

You would think that in the forty years since the second, third and fourth waves of feminism have gone past we would have seen real change… and yet we haven’t. There have seen small changes, girls and boys are able to compete against each other in sports, although we still have to make strides for women and men to compete against each other. There are men who take a more nurturing role in parenthood…at least in my circle of friends and family I’ve seen a more equal division of tasks. In Canada, women have choices when it comes to their body and whether she chooses to keep a baby or not, although for many in the United States this choice has been taken away or made much more difficult to access.

These changes are small and aren’t enough. Men still earn more money than women, even if they are doing the same job. Men still are promoted at a much faster rate than women. Men still don’t take on half of the family duties, leaving the majority of the household chores and child rearing duties to their female spouses. Men still feel it’s ok to tell a woman what to do with her body. Men still think women are able to give consent when they are passed out drunk.

The lack of change on these issues are often blamed on women for not standing up for themselves and speaking up about it. There are some women who blame other women for this lack of change instead of all of us looking at the systemic changes that need to happen. And for that, we need men to shut up and listen, and that may take some time.

I marched with millions of women because I want the women in my family, and all young women for that matter, to be able to stand up tall, to not question themselves, to love freely and to be unconventional. I don’t want my granddaughters to define themselves through traditional values, unless of course, they choose to themselves. I want to ensure that women’s equality progresses to the point where we can actually say we are truly equal, and I want to be around long enough to see this happen, for my daughter, my daughter in laws, and especially for my granddaughters. Because it is about time.

“Because it is about time.”

We have talked about equality for a long time. Generations of women and men have talked about it and I am getting a little impatient, especially for my granddaughters. (I used to say for my daughter, but I’ve given up on the notion that it will happen for her.)

I marched because I don’t want to see hard won fights regress. I marched because I wanted to wake up the silent majority, to make sure women’s issues are taken seriously. I march because I don’t want my granddaughters to ever be devalued by experiencing discrimination in any way.

Fearless, bare dissent

While I scrolled through Facebook on Mother’s Day I saw many posted pics (some recent, most vintage) and other tributes to my friends’ mothers and mother figures (aunts, sisters, friends, neighbours). I saw quite a few memorials posted by those who have lost their mothers, as well as one or two notes about recognizing the women who wished to be mothers but could not be. One or two, or even three themes emerged on posts and in the memes inspired by honouring mothers and mother’s day: 1) mother love is/should be/all warm and fuzzy; 2) that mothers come in all shapes and sizes and 3) mothers are strong, funny, etc., etc. All the public mother love was heartfelt, but the most shockingly inspiring and moving posts I read on and around Mother’s Day were about the tradition of naked protests. Continue reading

Getting to Know You Questions – Mother’s Day

In May, our blog is all about Motherhood. Our bloggers were sent a number of questions about the topic – get to know your gals and find out what their thoughts are around motherhood!

Kaitlyn

  1. What lesson(s) from your Mother, stuck with you?
    Be Good. Be Kind. Do your best. Never give up. Do what makes you happiest. (In all fairness, I may have only realized many of these recently.)
  2. Tell us the one thing you want everyone to know about your Mother?
    She is one of the strongest women I know. She can probably do anything. She’s the reason I believe I can do anything. She has never let me doubt myself. (Also, she has the best hair.)
  3. Sometimes we have not-so perfect Mothering moments – what is one piece of advice you can give to help each other through those moments?
    The cliché, “nobody’s perfect,” applies. If you love your kids and you try your best, your kids will love you no matter what. Just don’t ever abandon the ship. Hard times always pass.

Kaitlyn_Mom

Donna

  1. What lesson(s) from your Mother, stuck with you?
    There is always a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D.  Never give up!
  2. What is your strongest childhood memory about your relationship with your Mother?  Comedic Sick-Kick, to this day we continue to have crazy adventures just going to the super market!
  3. Tell us the one thing you want everyone to know about your Mother?  She overcame an abusive childhood, and raised us four kids with love, humour, Donna-2understanding and compassion.  She broke the cycle of abuse, through her I know it can be done.  It helps me at work, to know there is hope for the families we serve.
  4. As a Mother, Step-Mother or Motherly Influence, what is your biggest worry? That my children, my nieces and nephews won’t take opportunities that will enable them to reach their full potential.  They all have so much to offer, I worry they will not recognize that within themselves.
  5. What would you love for your Mother to know about you?  I understand her more now that I am a mother of young women, and appreciate she was an unconventional mom when I was growing up.
  6. Sometimes we have not-so perfect Mothering moments – what is one piece of advice you can give to help each other through those moments?  ____ happens, say you’re sorry, and move on.
  7. Your own Mother aside, who embodies your ideal of a Mother – your Wonder Woman?  And why?  Any woman that gives up her dessert to her kids!  I’ll share, but the entire dessert….can’t do it.
  8. What song best describes your Mother? And why?  Landslide by Stevie Nicks.  Speaks to the changes she has gone through, more as a woman than my Mom.

Marilyn

  1.  What lesson(s) from your Mother, stuck with you? I will always be pleased that my mother taught me how to cook at an early age. She taught me the importance of serving a delicious home-cooked sit-down meal to family. I learned that this time could be used to catch up with one another and discuss family issues.
  2. MarilynYour own Mother aside, who embodies your ideal of a Mother – your Wonder Woman?  And why? My cousin Vicki is the most dedicated, devoted and loving mother I have ever known. Her love is truly unconditional and she approaches each situation with genuine warmth, patience and unrelenting kindness. She makes every occasion special with her flair for making everyone feel important.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! OR IS IT?

For most people Mother’s Day is a happy time to celebrate their mother.  The woman of many titles: mommy, mum, mother, friend. It’s a day to honour the woman who brought you into this world and raised you. It’s one day a year that’s set aside to show appreciation for the woman who willingly makes sacrifices for their family. It’s a day for mothers to relax and be spoiled by the people who love them the most. Children make cute cards and homemade crafts at school. Adult children form new traditions with their own family, while still paying homage to their beloved mother. There’s luncheons or dinners at restaurants with special gifts and sometimes even some delicious cake.

What if her love isn’t unconditional?

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But what if your mother isn’t the warm and fuzzy type? What if her love isn’t unconditional? What if you’ve tried your whole life to gain her acceptance and approval?  What if she hasn’t been there for you when you’ve needed her the most?  What happens when you are banished from her queendom any time you disagree with her? What if she gets angry because you don’t do things the way she does them? What if you can no longer tolerate or accept her hurtful comments and  negative behaviour? What if she isn’t like the mothers described in those sugary, flowery Hallmark cards? What if you can no longer bring yourself to try to please someone who refuses to be happy? What if the whole thing leaves you stressed out and overwhelmed? What happens when you can’t be a dancing monkey anymore? How long do you keep trying before you eventually give up?

For years I made a huge deal out of Mother’s Day because I truly love my mother and I wanted to make her happy. I would spend weeks shopping to find the perfect gift for her. I would plan a menu filled with her favourites. I would clean my house spotless and spend hours prepping and cooking food. I always bought an expensive, fancy cake to serve for dessert. I would spend the entire day focused on indulging and spoiling my mother and her husband. I would wait on her, seeing to her every need before she even expressed it.  When they eventually left I stayed up late, cleaning. My wonderful husband always helped me with the cleanup, but the whole thing left me feeling drained. After years of this routine, I started to feel resentful. Why did I think it was my job to provide the perfect day for my mother while essentially forfeiting my own Mother’s Day celebration? Why was I hardwired to believe that I was to always put my mother’s feelings and happiness ahead of my own?

I don’t need a card or a gift to validate their love for me.

Picking out an appropriate card for my mother is no easy task. Most cards are filled with positive sentiments about mom always being there for her children. The saccharine poetry is almost sickeningly sweet. I’m sure it’s because most mothers willingly make sacrifices for their family and deserve the accolades bestowed upon them. Most mothers would march through the gates of hell to protect them from anything bad. Most mothers give unconditional love to their children, even into their eventual adulthood. I am a mother and I can honestly say that there is nothing in this world that could ever come between me and my children. Even when we disagree or they’ve done something that upsets me, I know that we will work things out. I have raised my children to believe that they are fabulous, unique individuals who should chase their dreams and live their lives to the fullest. I have never made unreasonable demands of their time. I don’t expect them to check in with me everyday and give an in-depth accounting of the way they spend their time. I encourage them to pursue their interests and explore everything that life has to offer. I don’t expect them to shower me with lavish gifts or make a big production out of Mother’s Day. I don’t even expect them to buy me a card. I don’t need a card or a gift to validate their love for me. I simply try to enjoy every minute we get to spend together.

marilyn familyFrom left to right: my son Mark Anthony James, me, my amazing husband and best friend Mike, and my beautiful daughter Candice Lee.

I cherish the times we spend on the phone, laughing and catching up. I know that their time is valuable and they are busy adults trying to get through this thing called life. I know without a doubt that they love me and they know that I would lay down my life for them. I don’t expect them to compete with one another to impress me. I never want them to feel obligated to roll out the red carpet and make a big production for any reason. I am secure in knowing that I did the best job I could as a mother by listening to them and making myself available to them. I am content in knowing that our relationship is based on mutual respect, acceptance, and kindness. I never want them to feel bad about themselves by expecting them to live up to some pre-conceived notion of what I think they should be or do with their life. I want them to feel free to pursue everything their heart desires. I want them to know that as long as I am alive I will always be a listening ear and that they can unburden themselves without fear of consequence. I will never judge them harshly or view them with black-and-white thinking. I accept our differences and enjoy being included in their adventures. I am open to seeing things through their eyes and trying new things. I never want to impose my opinions or ways of doing things onto them. I never want them to question my love, affection and admiration for them. I will never pigeon-hole them by inflicting my ideas on them. I will never ask them to give up their identity to be what I would like them to be. I will never burden them with expectations of conformity or tradition. I respect their right to live their life however they see fit. I don’t want them to exist to merely be extensions of me. I want them to thrive in their own individuality and be confident enough to try new things. I never want them to define their lives by my standards or ideas. I just want them to be happy!

I will not be part of an imaginary competition between me and my siblings in a bid to win my mother’s love and acceptance.

So, this year I have decided to celebrate Mother’s Day on my own terms. I won’t be buying cards that don’t honestly reflect a very damaged and unhealthy relationship that has permeated my whole life. I won’t dismiss my own accomplishments and put my own needs at the bottom of the list any longer. I refuse to continue to engage in self-deprecating actions in the hopes that this year will be different. I will not be part of an imaginary competition between me and my siblings in a bid to win my mother’s love and acceptance. Instead, I will continue to commit myself to positive healthy relationships with people who also value the concepts of individualism and respect. I will continue to dedicate my life to being a better person and helping others. I will work even harder to be the best mother I can be to my children. I will willingly help my children and grandchildren in every way that I can to make their journey through life a little easier. I will be a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear without harsh judgments and unreasonable demands.

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Two Moms

Two Moms

(My View from the Peanut Gallery)
Once upon a time, there were two lovely damsels. Raised in separate, yet similar, worlds where the virtues of princes were extolled, they lived their lives waiting for their knights in shining armor. Knights were found, lives were pledged, and babies were made, all in the name of storybook endings.
I met Kymm and Jill seven years ago when I went to work for one of them. It doesn’t matter which one really, because when you have one, you simply have the other. They come as a package; a brazen, funny, loving package that makes you wonder why you can’t shake loose your heterosexuality if it means being THAT happy. Sixteen years after they first met, they still look at each other with the kind of devotion that makes me ache with envy.Cover Pic Kymm and Jill
Whenever I hear people discuss same-sex parents and speculate on the kind of life “those children” will have, I always come back to these beautiful women, and the beautiful women they’ve raised. It has always been my experience that the most interesting people in this world, the strongest, the most accomplished, are those who were raised in a less-than-traditional family. I’m not saying greatness can’t come from tradition, simply that it usually doesn’t, just as a potted tree will never become as magnificent as one that grows a little wild.
Time spent with these women is always full of amazing food and the kind of laughter that makes other people either envious or annoyed. Conversations with them are always open and enlightened; there are no boundaries about what’s an appropriate topic, no judgment, or fear that the choices you make, or the life you live, is somehow less-than… and trust me, there is enough talent in this family to justify being a little smug.

They are the barometer with which I measure my parenting. When they agree with choices I’ve made, I feel more confident that I’m on the right track.

Each of the four women is artistically inclined, whether it’s being a chef or a painter or a stylist, they all have a talent to call their own, and a view of the world that inspires you to open your own mind just a little more. They are the barometer with which I measure my parenting. When they agree with choices I’ve made, I feel more confident that I’m on the right track.Kymm and Jill
I often wonder what other same-sex parents go through when trying to raise their families. Do they try to be as close to ‘traditional’ as possible to avoid the appearance of being that much more different, or,  like Jill and Kymm, have they embraced that which makes them unique, and used it as a springboard into truly exceptional? It’s not my place to judge regardless, I simply hope that there are more people able to stand up to societal norms and fully realize the scope of influence they could have on a generation.
The children my friends have raised, in partnership with their father, are spectacular. Intelligent, articulate, strong, and uncompromising, they are what this next generation needs to lead it into unapologetic inclusivity. They are, ultimately, the answer to the question of “what kind of life will kids like those have?”…magnificent.
And they all lived happily ever after.

 

 

 

Your Opinion? No, thanks!

I grew up in a household and with family who breastfed, and who were comfortable doing so around others. I grew up never thinking twice about seeing a nursing child and mother. The men in my family never said a word about it, nor asked their wives/daughters/sisters to cover up or leave the room. To us all, this was a natural, comfortable experience. I also grew up seeing babies being bottle fed. This was also normal and natural.
When I became pregnant with my son there was no question that I would try to breastfeed and again it was something that I didn’t think much of—I just knew that would be my preference for all the usual benefits plus the affordability. So needless to say, I was at a loss for words when my father’s girlfriend informed me that breastfeeding is disgusting and especially breastfeeding a son.

What???

My intention here is not to advocate for or against breastfeeding/bottle feeding. I won’t give you all the reasons I truly loved breastfeeding and eventually also loved bottle feeding when my milk dried up. You know why? Because it’s none of your business. Nor is it any of my business which you prefer. And it certainly isn’t the business of strangers to publicly shame, criticize, antagonize and make unwanted and undeserved comments to a woman who is just trying to nourish and feed her child.

When you look back through the ages, it seems breastfeeding your child has always been something of a thing. Whether it was high society women preferring to use a wet nurse as it wasn’t socially acceptable to actually do it yourself, or skipping forward a generation or two later where it became all the rage in the Victorian era to have your picture taken breastfeeding your child: Victorian Breastfeeding Photographs to when formula was introduced and breastfeeding had dropped to a shocking 20% of women by the 1950’s, to its revival and advocacy not long after and so on and so forth.

Nowadays there is a constant social media battle of celebrities and regular moms defending their right to post a breastfeeding picture. Or defending their pictures of their bottle fed child. It’s amazing to me that every single one of the women in these links have experienced the same thing—backlash, criticism, horrifically hateful and disgusting comments and threats all because of their choice in how to feed their baby. Life and style magazine  bottle feeding shame and the worst part? That most of the comments are made by other women. 

What business is it of anyone’s but the mothers how she chooses/or has no choice as to how she feeds her child?

My question is — why does it matter so much? What business is it of anyone’s but the mothers how she chooses/or has no choice as to how she feeds her child? How on earth does it affect anyone but the mother and child? Why should a woman have to feed her child sequestered somewhere? Why should a woman bottle feeding her child have to listen to someone extol the virtues and benefits of breastfeeding?

I hate to break it to people— but your opinion isn’t needed. If you want to get upset about something think about all the babies around the world whose mothers are too malnourished to breastfeed and too poor to afford formula never mind a bottle.

Friday Find: The Feed Your Baby Project

We received a message from one of our Facebook followers, Rachel Brencur, who is a newborn and family photographer based on Vineland. She wrote a great post on her blog about breast feeding and formula feeding, and how each mom and baby are different. Check out her blog post and the beautiful pictures that accompany it! Let’s remember to celebrate and accept each other and our differences!

 

Moments in Time – Part 3

This post is part of our series throughout the month of May on motherhood. This story is the third part to “Moments in Time – Part 1,” and “Moments in Time – Part 2”, reflections from our Executive Director Elisabeth Zimmermann on the death of her grandson, Coby.
We post this story in honour of all the mothers who have experienced the tragedy of loosing a child.

This past January we gathered together to mark what would have been Coby’s second birthday.  It is still difficult. We came together as family to remember the child who we never had the chance to know.  I couldn’t help but think about what he would have been doing, what kind of little boy would he have been.  I know if he had been anything like Kirstin he would have been taking the world by storm, inquisitive, exploring and full of energy. We would have probably have had lots of grandma and Coby time by now, secret times, just the two of us as I helped him learn about the world around him.  The grief has softened as time has gone on as I knew it would, yet it is still there.  There are moments that still catch me by surprise, a sentimental commercial, a little blond haired two year old boy.  Moments that remind me of what we have lost.  Those moments aren’t as often as they once were but they are still there and when they happen are still as intense and full of sorrow as they were from the beginning.

This year life has evolved and continued as it does, Kirstin and Jason now have Alice who was born in August after an anxiety filled pregnancy.  The first time I saw Alice within hours of her birth was the same way I saw Coby for the first time, in the arms of her father.  It took my breath away how much she looked like her brother.  There are moments when I look at her as she is growing and thriving I can’t help but wonder about Coby and what kind of big brother he would have been.

“It is the great comfort that children bring, life goes on and the immediate needs take precedent and in that there is healing.”

Kirstin and Jason’s first weeks of parenting this new baby had all of the typical new parent anxieties but all of it was amplified.  Layered over everything was the loss of Coby, the knowledge of how badly things can go wrong is always there.  As the weeks and months have gone by and Alice is growing and becoming more and more her own person it has forced them to be present in who she is.  It is the great comfort that children bring, life goes on and the immediate needs take precedent and in that there is healing.  What having Alice has done for all of us is crea
te the space for the joy of this new child without diminishing the importance of who Coby was in our lives and in so doing has created some peace with what happened.

Here we are now at Mother’s Day, the 3rd one since we lost Coby.  It has been a different Mother’s Day this year because of Alice’s presence it was marked by the duality of joy and sorrow.  The journey of parenthood has been a struggle for Kirstin and Jason because of the loss of Coby, it has had an everlasting impact on how they and I as well view the world.  I am grateful to see that Kirstin and Jason are finding peace with losing Coby and that Alice has brought them such great joy.  I know they will always miss him and that he will always have a place in their lives and that Alice will grow up knowing that she had a big brother even if she didn’t get to know him.  1

I continue to share our family’s experience and will always share this experience because I believe that in so doing we honour the time that Coby was with us and as well it is my hope that in so doing it creates the space for families who have lived in silence to share their own experiences.

I also continue to share my perspective of our experience because of how much Coby has impacted my life even though we only had him for a moment.
He will always be remembered, he will always be a part of our lives. 

 

The Evil Stepmother

Once upon a time…

…we had proper families. Ones that have a mother, a father and many children -at least two – ideally a boy and a girl. Our society, though full of all kinds of
patchwork families, still very much promotes the idea  that that is how it should be done. Many churches still preach it, Hollywood still makes movies that bring already separated parents back together at the end and everybody lives happily ever after.

Mother’s Day is an annual reminder for me that our family does not live up to this expectation, it does not fit the bill, we are not a cookie cutter family.
I am the one who ruins the perfect fairy tale: the evil stepmother.

Before I tell you my side of the story, a few things need to be clarified:

Here is what I CANNOT talk about:

  1. Being a stepmom when the birth mom has passed away – this would be a whole different challenge
  2. Being a stepmom who was the reason for mom and dad to break up in the first place – again, probably something that comes with its own set of obstacles

What I CAN talk about is being the classic, average stepparent. The one who walked into a situation where everything was said, done, and signed; a situation where somebody is ready to move on.

Having said that, here is what you should know about us not-actually-all-that-evil stepparents (dads included!):

  1. We fell in love. When you ask a little girl how she envisions her future, she would probably not answer: I will fall for a divorced guy and he will have two children and we will share custody with their mother and we will all live happily ever after. There is only one reason why anybody would choose to be in this scenario – the brain-fogging, all-consuming proverbial power of love. So you can judge us all you want for seemingly making an already complicated story even more complicated, but you know… it happens.
  2. We walked into a mess. Yes sure, I always hear that a friend has a friend whose cousin still gets along great with his ex and the sharing of the time with the kids is a real breeze but I think we might be back in fairy tale land there. The majority of us walks into some kind of more or less messy situation, or a sad situation or an angry situation. We are not an evil bunch but a resilient one.

When I told my daughter (stepdaughter to be precise) that I was going to write about being a stepmom compared to being a birth mom, she shrugged and said: “It’s pretty much the same thing.”
I smiled, somewhat flattered but also knowing that she knows better, that we both know that it is the same but as she said, only “pretty much” the same.

So what is it that makes you a mother?

The Oxford dictionary gives a clear answer. A mother is:

“A woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth.”

There goes my illusion, I have not given birth to our two monsters, therefore I am not their mother. But then I kept reading. This is how the dictionary defines the verb “to mother”:

1. Bring up (a child) with care and affection
1.1. Look after kindly and protectively, sometimes excessively so.
I know that my boy eats the best thing on his plate first and leaves the salad for last, frowning and complaining all the way as he finishes it. Our daughter does it the othe
r way around. She fights her way through the greens and saves the juicy steak to finish off her meal. I know when their swimming lessons are, their volleyball, their band practices. When I fold their socks, I fold them in pairs, because I know that they will leave the house wearing two different socks if the matching one is not right there. I think of them when I hear the word “wasabi” because we had a silly joke about wasabi years ago.
Our kids were nine and seven when I entered their lives. They didn’t put frogs into my purse or hid my keys or were secretly evil when dad was not looking. Our girl welcomed me to their family with open arms and the kind of innocent warmth only kids seem to have. Our boy tried to ignore and not like me for about a year. He was not unkind, just reserved. He felt as though liking me would be betraying his mother. I waited and let him figure it out, let him work through it. One day he turned to my husband and said: “I am embarrassed. I think I like her.” That is the day when it all changed and he allowed himself to let me into his life.
“How about ‘mom’?”
About one year into our new family setup, our daughter asked if she could give me a nickname: “Franziska is really long, we need something shorter.” “Sure” I said, “what did you have in mind?” She thought for a second and then said: “How about ‘mom’?” She looked at me with her big eyes and I had a split second to make a choice. “I don’t think your mom would like me having that nickname” I answered. “How about Fran?”
I may only be a stepmom, not a “real” mom, but I have enough imagination to know that that would be a mother’s worst nightmare – hearing your daughter call somebody else “mom”.

 

It is situations like that that remind me constantly that I am not a birth mom and that it is a hard role to define – for the kids, their birth parents, myself. Like the time our boy came home and proudly presented a family tree that had a branch just for me. He also still claims sometimes that he is half-German because of my background. I think he understands the blood line concept but I don’t think he cares.

The truth is that I am not a mother. I am a stepmother. I am not evil and it is a daily challenge to find my place in the story because evil is the only attribute stepparents ever seem to get in centuries of storytelling.

I did not get flowers for Mother’s Day. I still get asked all the time when I will have children even though people are well aware that I already have two. When people ask me if I have children, I can’t ever just answer “yes” without feeling like I should add an explanation.

There are two children in my life whom I love and care about. I think about them every day, I worry for them, I hope for them. They drive me nuts some days and make me the happiest person in the world on other days. I don’t fit the dictionary’s definition but that doesn’t matter because the definition is missing an important part. To be a parent, any kind of parent (fur parents included ;-)), is an incredible privilege.

And they lived happily ever after… 😉