real life

An ode to 'Other Mothers', because for some of us, it wasn’t our mothers who raised us.

When I was younger, Mother’s Day didn’t really bother me. To me, it was just a day when I knew all of my friends would be busy, so I’d better plan to see a movie or do something to keep myself busy too.

Cut to today, I am reflecting on the past two weeks, and the lead up to Mother’s Day has been triggering to say the least.

Suddenly, it was as if all of the influencers I follow and the ads and the articles I was being served, decided to join forces in a targeted assault to push their Mother’s Day agenda: beautiful daughter smiling with beautiful mother, beautiful mother smiling with beautiful kids, seemingly perfect relationships, public declarations of love and owing everything to the woman that brought you into this world. 

Well for many, including myself, that imagery and messaging isn’t a lived experience I can relate to. 

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For some, that mother-child relationship can be quite complex and while we are all certainly brought into this world by a woman, it doesn’t necessarily make that woman a mother.

I, for instance, call the woman that birthed me only by her first name. As I grew older and began to understand what it really takes to be a mother, it seemed odd to give that title and implied credit to someone that didn’t put in the work.

This year, it dawned on me that there are many people that assume that role in big or small ways that aren’t necessarily recognised. That we need to normalise those relationships that significantly shape our lives in the absence of a “traditional” mother-child relationship.

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I am living testimony of the saying “it takes a village”. Many people can have a hand in mothering a child and this Mother’s Day I want to thank the village of women (and one very important man) who raised me and continue to shape my life:

To my godmother Sue who validates my feelings, celebrates my wins, constantly pushes me to fight for my worth and reminds me to plan for my future.

To Billy, the mother of my primary school friend Ivy, who taught me about fashion, style, old Johnny Depp films and always said yes to a sleepover even if it was during the week. 

To Janet, Karin and Michelle, the mothers of my beloved friends Stef, Roxi and Abbie, who let me spend weekends, school holidays and Christmases at their houses as a teenager and never made me feel like I overstayed my welcome.

To Claire, the woman who gave me my first job in PR. Who believed I was great so that I started to believe it too.

To my friend Hannah, one of my fiercest supporters who coaches me through adult life, stops time to remind me of my accomplishments, always believes in me and makes me believe that I am deserving of a happy life. 

To Deb, the mother of my darling Charlie, for welcoming me into her family without judgement and immediately treating me as one of her own.

To my dog Albi, for showing me that I can break the cycle, that I’m capable of giving love and that one day I’ll be a great mother myself. 

And finally to my grandparents, Patricia and Donald, who didn’t flinch when I became their seventh child when they were well into their 50s. Who took care of me and always made sure I had somewhere to call home.

Today I’ll refrain from my typical Sunday of mindless scrolling on Instagram and avoid the day’s declarations of love and picture perfect mother/daughter relationships. Instead, I’ll pay tribute to those people in my life who had a hand in raising me. 

Shout out to all of those villagers out there who don’t get a fancy day - never underestimate the effect you can have on someone's life by showing them compassion, love or even just giving them a seat at your table.

And finally, to myself. The strength it took to get to where I am today. I am one bad b*tch and I will never forget that. 

Feature Image: Mamamia + @keereece Instagram.