There is a character in “Family Guy” named Stewie. One of the most popular scenes shows Stewie by the side of the bed trying to get his mother’s attention. I am sure many moms can relate to this.
Stewie: …Hi! [runs out of room] Teeheeheeheehee!
A facebook friend emailed and asked how many children I had. She saw several young women call me Mom and she was confused. I smiled and thought for a moment about my answer. I decided to answer that question in my post today. I have written a post for Mother’s Day the past two years. They were both on a more somber note. Mother’s Day has not always been a time of “warm fuzzies” for me. This year I really want to celebrate more than reminisce.
I have two biological children. I did it the way you were supposed to do it-one boy, one girl, four years apart so you didn’t have two in college at the same time. I was terrified when I found out I was pregnant with my son. I knew nothing about being a good mother, but I knew exactly what not to do. I haunted the library and read every book about motherhood. I talked to other mothers. I just wanted to be the best for them. I loved them with every inch of my being.
I wasn’t always perfect, not even close. I made some huge mistakes. At one point during my drinking, I lost custody of my children. I am always ashamed to share that with others. It was the most difficult time in my life. I did get custody back and we worked to rebuild that special relationship.
Before that time, however, there were always other children in my house. I wanted to stay home with my kids as long as I could. I did day care at home to supplement our income. I looked like the Duggars (19 Kids and Counting) getting out the car. At one point, I had an infant, a toddler, three preschoolers and three school age kids. I also had a beautiful young woman who came to my house after school. She had Down’s syndrome and couldn’t stay home alone. She became the second “mother” in the house in the afternoons. Some of the kids called me Mama Cathy.
During the time we lived in rural West Va., we served as home missionaries for a small mission church. I can see the wheels spinning for some of you. Didn’t she just say she had a drinking problem? It is a bit ironic, isn’t it? I didn’t start drinking until later in life. Let’s get back to the story. The youth group from the home church in South Carolina came for two weeks every summer. Our house was crawling with kids. The teens from our mission church spent time at our house as well. They all called me Mom.
My daughter, Lory, loved to bring kids home who I loving refer to as “strays.” They weren’t problem kids—well, most of the time—but came from homes with many problems. We had a two-bedroom apartment. Saturday morning looked like a scene from a zombie movie. There were bodies strewn over the couch, chairs, the floor, and anywhere they could find a spot. My friend Cathy’s boys slept over from time to time as well. I didn’t sleep quite as soundly on those nights.
The brood of teenage girls loved to yell Mom at the top of their lungs when we went to the mall, the pool, the lake, etc. They always made sure they had an audience. Then they would laugh hysterically. However, they intuitively knew when to stop. Teen-age girls are a strange phenomenon.
The last day of my daughter’s sophomore year in high school brought all the kids to the house. Annie** (name changed) was the only one that stayed that night. Things at her home were difficult. I had a special place in my heart for her. Her mother was a practicing alcoholic/addict. Her father and stepmother had a toddler at home and Annie didn’t get much attention. The next morning Lory asked if Annie could just live with that summer. I paused hoping to find a brilliantly inspired Mom answer. I thought I had come up with the perfect one.
“Lory, as much as we would love to have Annie stay with us this summer, I am sure her parents would never allow that. She is welcome to come over as often as she likes.”
Brilliant, don’t you think? Lory disappears into her room returning with Annie after about ten minutes.
“Mom, will you take us over to Annie’s to get her stuff?”
Long Pause. “What stuff?”
“Her clothes and stuff. Her step mom said she didn’t care if stayed here. She thought it was a good idea.”
Annie not only stayed the entire summer with us but we held a joint birthday party for the girls. Their birthdays were only a couple of days apart. I worked at a local hotel and used one of the banquet rooms. We had about thirty kids there that day. Lory is still friends with some of the girls from that time and they still call me Mom.
When I moved back to South Carolina, I started dating a single father of two girls. I had a long list of qualifications for dating anyone at that time. The list included NO children, NO ex-wife problems, someone NOT in recovery, and someone financially stable—the perfect man. After all, I had a career, was a grandmother, and had enough of bad relationships. Jack was a single father with full time custody of two little girls, a crazy ex-wife, he was in recovery, and was not that financially stable. They also had a cat, a hamster, a tarantula, and a snake. After a while, I moved in with Jack and helped raise the girls. Love is a strange thing.
Lory is an adult now, but still has friends that call me Mom. My son has friends who have no idea that my name is Cathy. They all just say “Hi, Ted’s Mom.” I also have three grandchildren. Being a grandmother is the most incredible thing in the world. They range in age from almost 15 years to 15 months. I have a couple of step-grand kids and other kids who just call me Grandma.
I love having a loving relationship with my kids and grand kids. My mother died two and a half years ago. I wish we had been able to have that same kind of relationship. I miss her and wish there had been more time for us. This Mother’s Day I will remember her with love and not regret. I will remember those women who stepped into my life and became my chosen mothers.
No matter where I am or what I am doing, if someone yells Mom, Mommie, Ma, Grandma, or any other variety of the name, I turn to make sure it isn’t me.