Who Are All These Kids?

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: Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Momma! Momma! Momma! Momma! Momma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Mom! Mom! Mom!

 Lois: WHAT!

 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.

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35 responses

  1. I love this. I have been known to “collect” kids as well. Lol! They make life richer. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean. One of Anna’s friends from Landrum was visiting recently and he asked me if I missed anything about Landrum. I told him that what I missed the most I could never have again. He looked puzzled. I told him what I missed most are all my kids – kids who are now grown and starting their own way in life. They are out of school now and, in many cases, no longer living in Landrum. He laughed and said, “Yeah, you did have a lot of kids, didn’t you?!”

    I was in Barnes and Noble the other day with the kids. I’d just gotten them settled in the children’s section and was walking away to check out some nearby adult shelves. Some kid yelled out, “Mom!” Three women, myself included, all whirled around to respond. All three of us had to laugh. (It wasn’t my kid, by the way!)

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    1. We will just have to make sure you find a whole new group of kids. I can act like a kid anytime and on command. Just ask!! Kids do grow up and grow away from you.
      I am sure they all miss you, too.

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  2. So sweet! Sounds like you run a really fun house.

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    1. Thanks Krisitn. I think I would love to have all my blogger and writer friends spend a weekend with me. LOL

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  3. It’s funny how quickly those children you didn’t give birth to can become the children of your heart. I have two boys I’ve given birth to, and a boy and a girl I love as much.

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    1. I had a biological mother and an adopted mother (grandmother) that never were mothers to me. Birth doesn’t a parent make for sure. So glad you have children of the heart and birth.

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  4. Wow. I’m sorry for the loss of your daughter. It’s sounds like you have been a positive influence in many lives. That’s wonderful!

    My kids repeat that commercial from Family Guy all the time.

    Thank you for sharing such a private and personal part of your story. Stopped by from Yeah Write #56.

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  5. Aw, good for you for being a parent to so many!

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  6. Great post and I love that Stewie bit too.

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  7. You are fantastic and I envy how many kids have called you mom. Good for you for getting into – and staying – in recovery. You got my vote with this one. (-:

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    1. Thanks so much. My daughter still has her diaries and shared a couple of her entries when she sat in on meeting with me. They were too sweet and funny.

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  8. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms | Reply

    This post made my heart swell. You would be a very special woman to know. Ellen

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  9. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms | Reply

    This post made my heart swell. You would be a very special woman to know. Ellen

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  10. Happy Mother’s Day in advance, Cathy! I love your story and thank you for the honesty and a peek into your youthful years. I bet you have a beautiful family who’s proud of their mum or grandma 😀

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  11. This is too sweet, Cathy. Wow. I can’t imagine the amount of space in your heart that it took to have those kids crawling around the house all the time. I only have two bio kids, and sometimes even they are too loud for me–even when I’m upstairs. LOL. ((Hugs)) to you. It was great finding out something so intimate about you that I didn’t know. Will you adopt me, too? I can buy my own food. 😀

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    1. I was going to ask you to adopt me. LOL You are already one of my “kids”. And yes you have to bring your own food. HUGS back.

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      1. Aww, you’re going to make me cry. And I NEVER cry. 🙂

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  12. erinmthrelfall | Reply

    Sounds like you are a very loving, nurturing woman- so many have been lucky to know you!

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  13. I’m a former foster mom. Do you know how much respect I have for you that you got it together and got your kids back? Huge MAD RESPECT because they system does not make it easy to get a second chance! I completely get the house full of kids because we’ve had up to 8 officially in our house and few other stragglers that were temporary residents. Full house, full heart. Great post!

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    1. Thank you. I actually credit my daughter. 🙂 She stood up to her father and counselor and told them point blank that she wanted to be with her Mom and nothing was going to stop her. the counselor they took my children to see wrote me and said “I should tell my children that they would never be able to come back and live with me.” She said they would then give up on the idea and become part of the new step family. I won’t use that kind of language here but I told her in no uncertain way that I would NEVER say that to my kids. I also had an amazing support system of people who were there for me. I am still in touch with several of those teens and love having them in my life.

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  14. i love this. I love homes where everybody’s welcome.

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  15. such a moving post, filled with so much kindness. a perfect pre-mother’s day read.

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  16. You sound like that lady tht everyone calls mom…affectionately.

    WG
    http://itsmynd.com

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  17. Your posts always fill me with hope and courage and pride. You’re one awesome lady. And the fact that you turned your life around and got your kids back?! Well, that makes you even more awesome.

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  18. justjenannhall | Reply

    This was very nice to read. Regardless of what you’ve been through in your life, you sound like a very nurturing person, and that’s saying something.

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  19. Beautiful tribute to the people you parented. I’d like for you to adopt me now. 😉 In all seriousness, when I hear stories from my 13 year old about how some of her friends are treated, as in totally ignored, I am saddened. I have a secret desire to go steal them from their homes, even if for only and hour, so that they have someone to talk to. Your parenting presence, I’m certain was influential.

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    1. Thanks Kimberly. There was a special woman in my life that helped me as I was growing up in the craziness. I love being able to share that with someone else now. You can fix their lives but you can touch them if only for an hour or so.

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  20. Cathy,

    What a great post! I hope I am “that” mom when my kids are grown up, the mom that everyone loves and remembers nice things about.

    Just found your blog, and will be back to read more.

    best,
    MOV
    http://mothersofbrothersblog.blogspot.com

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  21. First off, kudos to you for the recovery.
    Next, I couldn’t help but smile. Your story sounds quite similar to my own parents- minus the addiction. Our home was always the place of respite for our friends. Between my brother, sister, and myself, our friends would be constant presence throughout our middle & high school years. To this day, my mom still has a special connection with quite a few.

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    1. What would being a teen be without those special homes and people? Glad you had that experience.

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  22. How wonderful that you could be there for those children. I hope someday I can be that mom – the one the kids love.

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  23. Hi Cathy. Thanks for following my lornpearsontrains blog. 🙂 I just read this post of yours and thought you might like this story I wrote for someone who isn’t my Mum, but she was there for me in every way a Mum should be. I wrote it for her 60th birthday: http://tothebestmumieverhad.wordpress.com/
    Hope you like it 🙂 Lorn

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    1. Thank you for sharing that. It was a wonderful tribute to what sounds like a great lady.

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  24. She is yep. And sounds like you are too. 🙂

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