I don’t know how it happened, but we had my Stepsons (12 and 9 ½ at the time) on Mother’s Day weekend of my first Mother’s Day. The boys would be taken home that afternoon, but they lived 170 miles away, and that meant they wouldn’t have time with their mother until evening. I felt terribly guilty all weekend, woke up that Sunday on the verge of tears, feeling like I stole something from their mother.
We lived in a run down, dilapidated single wide trailer that would a few years later be condemned. The owner was a junk hoarder and the entire property was essentially a junk yard. The boys woke up, ate breakfast and went outside to explore the tetanus paradise that was the property around our home. I stayed inside with the baby.
When the boys came back inside they had their hands behind their backs, and then presented me with the ugliest blue plastic flower that was every made, and a card their mother had taken them to pick out for me and told me “Happy Mother’s Day!”… I sobbed.
Words cannot express how much that ugly blue flower and that card meant. The boys’ mom was amazing, she could have been upset, she could have insisted we change weekends so she could have Mother’s Day with the boys, but she wanted my first Mother’s Day to be special. And it was.
What you need to know is that my husband’s ex-wife and I have always gotten along, we haven’t always agreed, but we have always gotten along. When she learned that I didn’t have a baby-swing for my daughter, she gave me the one she had at her house for her and her husband’s granddaughter.
My kids refer to her as Aunt Rosie, because they feel like she is family and want her to have a family type name, the boys are adults now and we still talk on the phone and text each other.
And now we have entered a new chapter together, as Grandmothers. Our first granddaughter was born in April, and just like we learned how to mother the boys in two different households, we are learning how to grandma together, and honestly, I can’t imagine having to do it with anybody else.
When my husband and I got married and had our first child, I wanted to make sure our family was seamless… I wanted the boys to feel as much at home at our house as they did their mother’s, and she was OK with that. Of course, there were differences in discipline and other things, and I was VERY young (22), and learning not only how to be a mother to an infant, but to a 12 and 9 ½ year old. Rosie knew I was young and had patience with me as I figured it all out, she knew I loved the boys, she knew I wanted everything to be fair and as equal as possible between them and their baby sister.
It has been 18 years and three more children, since my first Mother’s Day (with a baby outside the womb), and what I can tell you is that most of parenthood is trial and error… There are things I was dead set against with the older boys, that eventually I gave up on…
There are things even with my oldest daughter that I have lightened up on with the other three, and so on…
Now, the oldest boy, Troy, likes to take credit for my husband and I lightening up, he says “I broke our parents, you’re welcome.” … But really it is age, experience, and learning when to pick your battles and what battles are worth picking…
In the beginning, I wanted to pick every battle… I grew up in a strict home and just thought that was how it was supposed to be. At 22 years old, I didn’t think about parenting in any way different than how I was raised, even thought the boys were not being raised that way. At 22 I didn’t try to figure out how to find a balance. And yet, Rosie never condemned me for it.
Rosie and I have been through a lot together, things have happened that have left us no choice but to band together and be strong, holding each other up to get through…. Raising boys is not for the faint of heart, even when they enter adulthood.
This Mother’s Day, besides thanking and honoring my mother and mother-in-law, I want to thank and honor my husband’s ex-wife. Without her my family wouldn’t have worked out as well as it did. Without her, my children would not be as close to their brothers as they are.
There were too many summers we had Scott on his birthday, we had moved 600 miles away, and we had the boys during the summer. There were years we had the boys on her birthday because her birthday falls on Christmas break (we alternated Thanksgiving and Christmas), and she never lamented to me about it.
There were times we would even go out to dinner together if we drove up to watch the boys’ sporting events (Basketball, Football, Soccer). My husband and I even house sat for her, so the boys didn’t have to miss school when her and her husband had to go out of town.
I love those boys as much as I love my biological children, and Rosie is OK with that. When asked how many children I have, I say “six”, and Rosie is OK with that. Through the things we have been through as mothers of boys, she knows that like her, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for them.
I don’t have that ugly blue flower anymore, I am not sure what move it got lost in, but the image is burned into my brain, the moment that those boys accepted me as a mom, not just a step-mom, not just their dad’s wife, not just their little sister’s mother. The day the unconditional love I chose to give them even before their dad and I got married was reciprocated.
We have had our ups and downs, and I have cried oceans of tears, but Rosie always stood by my side. We would disagree, sometimes maybe things would get heated, but we always got along because one thing was clear, we wanted what was best for the boys, we just had different ideas about how to achieve it. We worked through it together.
There is a reason my children refer to her as Aunt Rosie, she is family. I have no problem with my children loving her, because she had no problem with her children loving me.
We are in a new season now, grand-motherhood, and I couldn’t imagine any other woman I would want to share this experience with!
She lives closer to our granddaughter, so she sees her more, but she will always keep me in the loop. She was able to be in the room when our granddaughter was born, and I was so happy for her that I cried.
Rosie has an enormous and very forgiving heart, and it is because of that that my family was able to fall into place (sometimes clumsily, again, trial and error, and then age and experience helped.)
I cannot imagine sharing Mother’s Day with anyone else. Happy Mother’s Day Rosie! I love you and I appreciate you more than words can ever say!
Thank you for standing by me, as I grew into motherhood, starting with a baby is one thing, they don’t notice your mistakes, starting with children is a little trickier, but it never would have worked if you weren’t so forgiving and understanding.