I have had people tell me in my life that I could not possibly understand certain things about being a mother, because I have never had children or given birth to a child. In some ways I think they are right.
Though I have been and am a stepmother and have been a mother figure in my life. I am now older and past child bearing age I will admit that at different times in my life I did want to have children and have wondered what it would be like to have children of my own.
I always thought that one of the most beautiful things that a woman could experience is when her child is feeding from her breast, you can see the way the mother and child interact and look at each other and how there is a connection or a bond that is different from anything thing else. That is when I would always feel that deep feeling of emotion, or regret of not having children. But, there has been many times in my life when I have said I am so thankful that I did not have children because of my past and the decisions I have made in my life. I spent a lot of years of my life overcoming the darkness of my childhood and trying to better myself, that it just seemed that having children was not an option for me. Then circumstances of life take over and it is just how things played out. Everyone has different reasons why they do or don’t have children.
Now about being a stepmother/grandmother, foster-mother, adoptive mother ect. Things happen in life and every circumstance is different, sometimes their is divorce, sometimes the birth mother dies, some women give their children up for adoption, some don’t have the ability to raise their children properly, some have addictions or other problems that they for whatever reason can not take on the responsibility of raising their children. This is when the “other mom” steps in. I say “other mom” because that is what my daughter says when she talks about her mother that passed away, or she will say her “real mom”. My daughter Nikki is 32 years old, she is an adult with MRDD (mental retardation, developmental disabilities) and she is or will be a child like person for the rest of her life.
Nikki spent 29 years of her life with her mother who took care of her, nurtured her, and loved her like no one else could, and Nikki loves to talk about her mom and look at pictures of her. She misses her so badly at times, that I can not really understand because my mother is still living. I know it must be extremely hard and even seem unbarable for her at times. Then in walks me into her life and I am her new mom. A completely different kind of person, with different ideas, ways of doing things and different expectations. So it begins, we set out to live our daily lives as a happy family.
When these relationships come together there are struggles, challenges, problems to over come, new rolls to conform to. Well, I believe we all have to give and take from each other whatever the circumstance may be. Because we are all starting with a past this can be hard because we as mothers want to be what is needed for our children, emotionally and physically, but a lot of the time there is baggage that comes along with both parties. The children have needs that have to be met, and mothers have needs to be met as well. This is hard because sometimes we just don’t know what is needed, or how to meet the needs of them. A lot of times too, when a child is not getting their needs met they will act out in different ways, anger, rebellion, withdrawn and usually towards or directed to the “new mom” because they are the most convenient person there. This is frustrating, and tiresome at times, and constantly makes me question my ability as a mother.
I had a friend that I use to confide in when I would feel like I was a bad mom, too harsh, or not nurturing or loving enough and I have always struggled with the feeling of being an incompetent mom, but she would always tell me that ALL mothers feel this way, and that my feelings were normal. I always found this hard to believe, because I thought, in my mind, that birth mothers would never question these things because they had “that bond” that I did not. Weather this is true or not I don’t know. I do know that being a mother is one of the most rewarding, but also one of the hardest things there is to do, and living up to the expectations of the “real mom” in a child’s mind may never happen. But I do believe that with love, affection, attention, listening ears, and open hearts and minds, changes can come about and new forms of relationships can begin to take over. I realize it just takes time and I am very guilty of being impatient. I don’t have the answers, I may not be the best mom or win any awards, I may not even understand what it’s like to be a “real mom” but I try to do my best, to give what I have and am able to give every day, some days more than others.
So to all you “other moms” out there, I understand that there will be hard days, but there are also lots of good days, just keep on doing your best. We don’t always know what the effects will be and we will make mistakes and fail at times, but I do know that one person’s love can make a difference in anyone’s life!