When I first started teaching about villages in a classroom setting, immediately every student would ask about having their mom as part of their own village. Over time I started to really think about mothers being part of one’s village. At first I had a thought process that felt like, “You can’t find any one else to be part of your village outside of your parents? Your parents should automatically be your biggest fans.” For some people, their parents are their number one fan. They are the people that they want to call when s**t hits the fan, the excitement of a new opportunity ahead, a personal frustration with a friend or sibling. But for others, their actual parent was not the person that filled that role.
Before my mom got sick, I still called her almost every other day. Trust me, we had rocky parts of our relationship, but she was the one that I could chat to about my day as I drove home from work, call to vent about a frustrating situation, and definitely call panicked when I needed her help with whatever, even if she couldn’t do anything about it. As time went on, our relationship started to shift where I became the mom and she became the child. Drive home conversations turned to reminders to take medication, updates on doctors’ visits, or checking in to make sure that everything was okay with her. We knew that wasn’t how it was supposed to be but in all honesty, that’s just the way it ended up being. Now being on the other side of it, there are days when I drive home that I think, I could really use a call to my mom to update her about the great or awful day I just had.
Recently I shared that I finished my double mastectomy and reconstruction process. When I found out I was going to have the second procedure I felt like I didn’t have anyone to care for me as I recovered. I realize that’s not true and plenty of people would have stepped in, but sometimes you just want your mom and that wasn’t possible. Instead, a friend’s mom stepped in. She had promised my mom before her passing that she would take care of me and treat me as her own. Plenty of people promised that at the time, but time goes on, and slowly some have drifted away. This woman however, never did. She kept reminding that that was her role: a bonus mom.
As she drove me around the other day, helping me run a couple of errands on my list, she reminded me that that was her role and wanted me to feel free in treating her as such. She said, “I want you to tell me what you need just like you would have told your mom.” I agreed but what I realized is that while my mom was a great mom, she hadn’t been that role for years before she passed because she just physically couldn’t do things anymore. I had learned not just in the time that she’s been gone to become that much more self-reliant, but even long before that as her caretaker.
It was in that moment, that I wish I could have had that wisdom and empathy for my students years before. They didn’t know what it was like to have a person fulfill that role because no one probably had ever shown them or they had an amazing mom like I did and couldn’t imagine their village without her. Either way, it changed my processing about it and I think it’s a very important role and something to think about in your village.
Here’s my encouragement this week as we begin to celebrate Mother’s Day is to think through what your mother’s role is in your village. Does she have one? Does she not have one? Does she fulfill the role well? Did she not?
Take some time to honor that person in your village and if you are like me, missing the idea of calling to just update about your day, consider those that stepped in. And if you aren’t there yet, keep looking for the friend’s mom, the pastor’s wife, the aunt, the grandma, the sister-in-law, that longs to see a moment where she can step in as your bonus person.