Our kids have a different family structure than a lot of their classmates. They have many parents, many aunts and uncles and grandparents. Some they know and some they don’t, some they see and some they don’t remember meeting. They live at home with mom and dad and their brothers and sisters and their dog, but they also live with an Au pair from another country and a former Au Pair, who we have a hard time defining but who is most definitely a huge part of our family.
On Mother’s Day, I consider our children through their other moms’ eyes. I wonder if they enjoy Tess’ crazy storytelling, Remy’s passion for all things superhero, Lilou’s dramatic tendencies, Griff’s flirting and Sylvie’s sweet smile. I wonder at the pride, love and heartache I imagine they feel, and I start making plans for our annual visits.
I share today with five amazing moms, their moms, my mom, grandmas, mother-in-law…the list goes on. And before I became a mom, I thought that would be hard. Now I roll my eyes at myself. As I watch Sylvie lift her head to watch her brother, watch the kids gather around her in wonder, I feel the same way about all of them. Watching the watchers. I hope someday they’ll understand the awe, exasperation and amazement of parenting – whether it’s as an aunt or uncle, a stepparent or a straight up Mom or Dad.
Because they have changed my world view and my sense of self. Their stubbornness, temerity, generosity, hilarity – I am a different person because of them, a better person. We regularly get the “they’re so lucky to have you!”, which always makes me squirm. It’s not that simple. We’re all lucky to have the many-branched family that we do, fully of dotted lines and different interpretations. Our kids understand that some family belongs more to one of us than the rest, that they started in a different family than they wake up in every day. But each of their moms is a mom to be celebrated, and even though they aren’t mentioned in the title of today, all of the other strong females in our family’s life deserve a high five today too.
So we may not be able to draw a traditional family tree, but we know who would be in it. We just haven’t found the right plant structure yet. And to all of you, thank you and Happy Mother’s Day.