On May 14, mothers around the world will be feted with flowers, jewelry, brunches, spa treatments, handmade crafts and cards filled with words of love and thanks, and even some hand-written love notes.
Most mothers deserve that and a lot more, so what I’m about to suggest is in no way meant to dim the spotlight we put on moms come May 14.
Let’s broaden the mom circle to include the people who “mother” us without having the official title. Aunts, your mom’s best friend, your best friend’s mom, stepmom, nanny, neighbor, single dad, mentor, teacher, wise friend, caregiver and pet moms… for many of us, these people have earned a Hallmark card moment.
These “other mothers” fill the gaps of our lives with love, care, and attention. They unofficially adopt kids big and small and care for them the way God would want. Protecting, advising, worrying, and in some cases, providing food or shelter — they definitely fit the description of “mother.”
I never have and probably never will give birth, but I’ve experienced motherhood on many levels. I’ve had other mothers in my life and I’ve played the role of “mom.” I don’t even want to think about where I’d be without my Other Mothers.
My mom’s best friend, who I called Tante, filled in the creative gaps when I was growing up. An English and German teacher who wrote beautiful poems and told hilarious stories, Tante nurtured my love of the arts. My aunties, especially Aunt Pat, helped me grow culturally and spiritually.
I have friends who mother me. I’ll tear up if I start talking about Dee-Dee, Katie, and Sharon. Dee-Dee is the most motherly non-birth mom you’ve ever met. Katie, a retired teacher, has a circle of kids that constantly grows. Sharon, a professional and spiritual mentor, was the first to point out to me how much I mother my boys on the Matt and Ramona Show.
I didn’t give birth to my mother, Wheezy, but thanks to aging, our roles have reversed. I buy her nice clothes — though our neighbors in Belmont only ever see one pair of black pants from Walmart. I schedule and take her to doctors’ appointments. I also try, unsuccessfully, to take her on senior playdates. She just doesn’t play well with others she considers “old people.”
As for my toy poodle, Henri. When I lose him, I’ll be devastated. I can’t even handle it when I scroll through my Facebook timeline and read posts about other people losing their dogs.
And no matter what Blunt Mom says about pet moms, Henri is every bit “my child.” Vacations always include plans for him. His chest of drawers is filled with clothes and accessories. He is groomed, fed and spoiled like any human child.
I’ll never compare losing my mom or Henri to a parent who has lost a child. If someone else feels the need to, that’s their issue. All I know is I love that little fur ball and my mom loves him even more than I do.
I’m pretty sure I’ll get a Mother’s Day card from Henri. I’m 100% sure my mom will sneak to CVS to buy it for him. It gives me a supersized case of the feels when she does it. It feels great to be appreciated for taking care of them. Like other moms, I don’t do it to get a card, spa day or pat on the back. I do it because I care.
If motherhood is about love, caring for someone and making sacrifices for them, then let’s celebrate it with everyone who “mothers.” Let’s honor all the women (and men) who raise us, care for us and step up for us when we need them — people like my co-worker Sheri Lynch, who has served as the selfless “other mother” to her late best friend’s daughter.
Let’s give them their own day. Let’s create “Other Mother’s Day” on the day before Mother’s Day.
Ramona Holloway is co-host of the Matt & Ramona Show on 107.9 The Link. She also co-hosted Charlotte Today on NBC for 2 years. Her mom, Wheezy, and toy poodle, Henri, are well known to her fans.