I am a good mom. My children know that they are loved, supported and cared for. They know that they can come to me with anything and that there is nothing they can do that would ever make me stop loving them. I have striven to strike an acceptable balance between kvelling about and embarrassing them (although it sometimes requires a tweak here and there) and am confident in saying that they both know that I’ve got their back. I am a good mom.
This weekend I met a way-bettter-than good mom. She fits all the aforementioned criteria and then some. Her (not real) name is Anne. She is a foster mom; seeking permanent guardianship of a delightful young lady I will call Topaz. Topaz adores Anne and Anne adores Topaz. They live together and, despite having come from different worlds, they both want to keep it that way. Topaz doesn’t come without baggage. (Who does?!) She is one of several siblings, all of whom are living apart from one another. Her father has served time in prison; for what I am unsure. I am fairly sure, however, that it doesn’t much matter. Topaz, at the ripe old age of eleven offhandedly commented that “he gave up his rights to me the first time he went to jail” with far more matter-of-factness and far less disdain than one might suspect. It was the only life she knew. Her mother’s issues are unknown to me, but I am quite sure that Topaz knows all about them. She’s just that kind of kid: wise beyond her years and grateful for her second chance.
Anne and Topaz have only been in one another’s lives for two or three years. Topaz left behind a rural home and moved to a hip, urban area; a move which was not without its challenges. She misses the wide open space and life in a house full of siblings, who, despite their father’s challenges, are her family. Given the warmth, love and trust so evident between them, it might never occur to you how fraught with complications this relationship could be. In fact, despite the total lack of “family resemblance” I assumed from their interactions with one another that this was a lifelong mother/daughter relationship. In fact, it wasn’t until Topaz called out to Anne by her given name that I even began to wonder.
Midway through Anne’s narration of their story, Topaz mentioned (again, offhandedly) that Jessie (who had been a guest in their home for the better part of the afternoon) is transgender. Then, not surprisingly, the conversation turned to our story. Anne was completely unfazed by the announcement (love people like her!) and asked the sorts of questions one might suspect. And then she did that which makes me bristle: she told me that I am a great mom. Well…this nearly set off a smack down.
“No!” I protested. “It is you that is the great mom. I was thrust (or hurled, tossed, thrown, catapulted) into being a good mom for Jessie. I really had no choice (trust me, it isn’t that I am so wonderful…) while you, armed with the knowledge of how wildly complicated Topaz’s situation was (and continues to be) jumped in feet first and took it all on.”
Truth be told, while I fully embrace our story, our issues and our situation, I am fairly certain that I would not have actively sought it out. And, yes, I know that there are enough “Great Mom” medallions to go around, but I still contend: Anne wins this round.
There are lots of great moms out there who have made far greater sacrifices and faced far more enormous challenges than I have and I am fortunate enough to know many of them. Among the many, many moms I know (some only virtually) I cannot think of a single one who isn’t facing down one kind of challenge or another. Some are doing it with great support, others with less. Some have a lot of money to aid in their battles, others do not. And some are “out there with it” (that would be me) while others choose to be more private. I am not doing anything that 99% of other mothers would do for their children, I just happen to blog about it. I am a good mom. I might even be a little better than good, but so, too, are most of the other moms out there just fighting the fight, doing the dance or holding up the protective armor. Doesn’t much matter as long as well all remember my mantra: you can do this (no matter what it is!).
P.S. There are so many awesome moms out there that I dare not even attempt to mention by name, alias or even initials because I am sure to miss someone…but it is a pretty safe bet that if you are reading this you either are a great mom or had one (I know I did) and if you didn’t, I am guessing you will shatter that pattern right about now.