This Mother’s Day, I’m thanking the women who stepped up in my mom’s place

Happy Mother’s Day! In honor of all the amazing moms, grandmothers, step-mothers, older sisters, aunts, godmothers, and female role models out there, we’re celebrating with stories of our relationships with our mother figures. 

If you’ve lost your mom, Mother’s Day can be a really tricky holiday. While everyone else is out brunching and buying cards, you’re left with something of a hole. It always makes me a little sad each year, but I choose to use this day to remember my mom and be thankful for the time I had with her. She passed away from cancer when I was a senior in college, when she was 54 and I was 21. Now, a few years later, I still feel sorry that I didn’t get to know her in the same way my friends know their own mothers. ButI know she would be thrilled with how full my life is.

In all the hub-bub over mothers, other female role models sometimes get lost in the dust, just because they aren’t the ones who biologically birthed you. But my life has been rich with so many women who have shaped who I am and supported me through the hard times. For Mother’s Day, I’d like to thank them.

Thanks to my aunt, for keeping me connected with my family history

One of the hardest things about losing my mom is not being able to talk to her, to ask her questions. My dad can help with a lot of things, but where he can’t, my aunt steps in. She can answer all the family history questions I want to know as I’ve gotten older: What was I like as a baby? What did my mother want for my brother and me? My aunt and I have the relationship I imagine my mom and I would have had now that I’m an adult, and I truly treasure that.

Thanks to my step-mom for the heart-to-heart talks

I will always miss my mom, but I’m so, so glad that I have my step-mom. No one can replace my mom, of course, but having her in my life and seeing what a great partner she is for my dad has been wonderful. She loves baseball and history as much as he does, and I am thankful they’re there to take care of each other back in Ohio. After a scary sexual harassment encounter this year, my step-mom (who happens to formerly have been in law enforcement) had some really helpful, woman-to-woman advice to offer.

Thanks to my  sister-in-law for showing me what it’s like to be a parent

If I someday become a mother myself, I know I’ll be texting my sister-in-law constantly. I can’t ask my mom what to do in everyday child-rearing situations, but my sis-in-law has done an amazing job raising my two little nieces with my brother. I am confident I could count on her to pick up the phone in the middle of night if I had to reach out in a moment of panic, warranted or not.

Thanks to my boss for career advice and support on the job

My boss is a lot closer to my age than my mom’s, but I still look up to her in a lot of other ways. She loves my writing, and I love gossiping with her about Mad Men. She’s also very invested in my work goals and really wants me to succeed. I can’t turn to my mom for insight about where to go next in my career, but I can trust my boss’s input and know she has my best interests at heart.

Thanks to my bestie and roommate for helping me work it out

I moved to Chicago in my early twenties, and it’s still a miracle to me that a wonderful woman 12 years older than me agreed to take me on as a roommate. We found each other online the week I got to Chicago, back when she had a room to fill, and I needed a place to live. We hit it off, and I moved in days later. She became such an important part of my time in Chicago. She was both a sounding board and a city guide during an exciting, but sometimes lonely, new chapter in my life.

If your mom is still around, I hope you’ll give her a call on Mothers Day! If not, I hope you’re supported by a network of mother figures of your own making, like I am.

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