What my mom and my aunt taught me about motherhood
Full disclosure: I always find it weird when people ask me when I’m going to have a baby — or if there is already a bun in the oven when I choose to party sober. I get it — as a newlywed, it’s the next logical milestone.
And to be honest, I’m still on the fence about it.
Growing up, I never wanted kids (or liked them, for that matter). So, imagining myself as a mom is both frightening and exciting to me. I often times fear the responsibility of motherhood, questioning if I would be a good mom. In those instances, I answer no to the question. But, every once in a while, I daydream about a little sous chef with a head full of natural curls.
It makes me think about my mothers: my biological mom and my aunt.
They are different and flawed, but extremely loving. Their mothering styles helped me become the woman I am today. And somehow it was the perfect balance.
Not to be dramatic, but my aunt saved my life.
She took me in when I was six months old after my grandparents were no longer able to care for a newborn. My sister moved in with us shortly after, and then came my three older brothers. My aunt gave us everything any mother would give — including her love, stability, and her wisdom. She taught us that we could be anything we wanted through hard work, education, and perseverance.
She gave us the opportunity to dream even when she didn’t have that same luxury.
We weren’t The Brady Bunch by any standard, but our house was filled with as much love as that blended family’s home.
To be honest, much of what I know about being a woman is because of my aunt. She showed me what it means to be responsible for yourself and others. Through her love, I learned the art of nurturing. I don’t know that I could ever be as selfless as she was, but I’m grateful for her sacrifices. She has always been a hustler working several jobs at once, only to come home and do hair to bring in extra money on the side. Somehow, she still managed to make us a home cooked meal. Or at least, made arrangements so that we could cook it ourselves. To this day, I still remember baking candied apple walnut pies beside her for Christmas. That is a memory I will always cherish — along with piecing together puzzles on family game night.
And though I didn’t live with my biological mom (and never have), I could never doubt her love.
At times, we are actually closer than me and my aunt. I can’t be sure, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we were friends first. We learned how to respect each other as human beings, so we didn’t have the boundaries of a traditional mother and daughter relationship. That’s why to this day, I tell her every fear, every achievement, and every mundane detail about my life. It’s been like that since I was a teenager trying to make sense of my body, boys, and the person I wanted to become.
She was always so compassionate toward me and my ideas — regardless of how childish I’m sure it all sounded. She never judged me or made me feel insignificant because of my age. I’d like to say that she passed that on to me.
My mom also gave me her appetite for experiences. She is always up for a new adventure, no matter how simple. As silly as it sounds, our relationship flourished during trips to buy intimates and lunch dates.
She just wanted to be close to me, despite the initial awkwardness of not knowing each other.
That’s definitely no longer an issue. She probably knows me better than most now.
I don’t know about other people, but the things I appreciate most about my moms are not “things” at all. They’re experiences, like visiting the museum in my city for the first time. Or experiencing New York City at the top of the Empire State Building. I keep those moments frozen in my mind.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to have a child.
What I do know is that there isn’t one type of motherhood.
Motherhood doesn’t look the same for every woman. At least, it didn’t look the same for my mom and my aunt. I find that to be empowering — especially now when there are so many expectations on what it means to be a woman. But more importantly, expectations on what it means to be a mother.
That is always worth celebrating.