There is a flood of "thank you for being the best mom" social media posts every Mother's Day. One cannot open Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter without seeing at least 10 Mother's Day posts on the second Sunday of May. The most common posts are about biological mothers, grandmothers, adoptive mothers, and anyone that the person posting calls "Mom." Less common are celebrations of maternal figures in our lives.
I hold a strong relationship with my biological mother. She raised, guided, and protected me through the 21 years of my life. Not everyone can say the same. There are people whose biological mothers abandoned or abused them, and there are millions of people whose biological mothers or mother figures have passed away. I find that in nearly all of these cases, people have found maternal figures who have guided them, listened to them, nurtured them, protected them, and loved them. Even those who have strong relationships with their mother figure still find maternal figures in their daily lives at work, school, and other places.
Motherhood is not constrained to the idea that to be a mother, you must give birth to a child. Rather, motherhood is an idea of maternal influence on people. There are mothers who may never raise a child, or have their own children but still maternally influence other people's children.
To avoid getting caught up in the mix of Mother's Day posts, I decided to share this message on the day after Mother's Day this year. I wanted to give a special thank-you to the mothers in my life who are not my biological mother. Don't worry, I did not forget about her. She got her own special Mother's Day love from me, her Minnie Munch.
Thank you to my numerous aunts on both sides of my family who have helped guide me through life. Some of you are related to me through blood, while others are related to me through law. Each one of you has always given me unconditional love and support. Yes, some of you helped change my diapers. We don't need to talk about that any further. But you have also taught me countless life lessons. When I grow tired of hearing the same advice from my mom, you have given me different perspectives. You have listened to my whines and cries, celebrated my achievements, and shared my excitement. You have protected me from dangerous and uncomfortable situations, and when you could not, you healed my emotional and physical wounds. You taught me about generosity and kindness, whether you were sharing your snacks or sharing your knowledge. You are all mothers to me, and I celebrate you on this day.
Thank you to my teachers in elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Every female teacher has countless stories about their students accidentally calling them "Mom." Even in college, I have witnessed the accidental "Mom" come out. My teachers and professors, you have helped shape my knowledge of this world. You have encouraged me to learn and grow, and taught me to question the world around me. You have celebrated my hard work, and nurtured my academic development. You have comforted me during stressful times, and when it seemed like nothing went right, you taught me to find the positivity in my life. You have listened to my concerns, and guided me through decision-making processes. You are all mothers to me, and I celebrate you on this day.
Thank you to the mothers of my friends. You have raised some of the best friends a girl could ask for. You have taken me into your home, fed me, dressed me, and cared for me. You have listened to my spiels about work, school, and family, and you have shared your differing perspectives to help me make the best decisions for myself. You have inquired about my goals and my achievements, and you have supported me during difficult times. You have thrown warm blankets fresh from the dryer on me, and scratched my head until I've nearly fallen asleep. You have taught me about your different cultures, taken me on family vacations, and thanked God in prayer for allowing me to join your families for dinner. You have loved me as if I were your own child. You are all mothers to me, and I celebrate you on this day.
Thank you to my previous female coworkers and bosses. You have comforted me when I cried, and you gave me a shoulder to lean on. You understood and listened to my frustrations, even when you had your own. You have made me laugh when I thought nothing could be funny, and you have encouraged me to make the right decisions for myself. You have taught me how to love and respect people from all backgrounds, but you have also taught me the importance of demanding respect for myself. You have defended me and protected me in unjust situations. You have taught me strategies to gain confidence in unfamiliar situations, and have sacrificed your energy and time to help me navigate my life. You have accepted me for all that I am, and have guided me to utilize my strengths while working on my weaknesses. You are all mothers to me, and I celebrate you on this day.
Thank you to all mother figures in my life. Our relationship may not be in the binary framework of mother and child, but you have all listened to me, cared for me, provided for me, taught me, guided me, healed me, supported me, nurtured me, and loved me. You have utilized maternity in your exchanges with me, helping to shape and direct my decisions.
Motherhood is not constrained to the relationship between child and mother. Motherhood is a mindset. Mother's Day celebrations should encompass motherhood of all kinds. Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers in the world. Your impact on society does not go unnoticed.