Today I wish a happy Mothers’ Day to the many women who have acted as mother figures in my life.
First and foremost, of course, is my biological mother. She was pretty incredible. She was beautiful, smart, caring, athletic, artistic, and incredibly fashionable. She had an amazing career as a fashion designer in New York City and did a great job balancing that work with being a very attentive and supportive mom (I know, a hard act to follow!). Mom (along with my dad) provided us with a pretty incredible childhood. We had chores and were responsible for things around the house. She made sure we worked if we wanted something. But at the same time she gave us so much. As we both grew older, we became the best of friends. We could talk about almost anything. We were honest and supportive and caring. She was truly my model for what motherhood could look like.
Then there was Thelma. I was three years old, and my sister was just a baby when Thelma arrived. She would spend the next ten years co-parenting us so that my parents could work and feel confident that we were well cared for. Thelma was one of the most loving human beings imaginable. Don’t get me wrong, she could be firm. Thelma had high expectations for us and a no-nonsense approach when it came to right and wrong, but when you got that “Thelma hug,” you knew you were safe and well-loved. Thelma quickly became a member of the family. Eventually she went off to become an RN and then Director of Admitting at a local hospital. We grew up and went on our own journeys, but we stayed close. Thelma was present at many holidays and events, graduations and ceremonies, baby showers, weddings and funerals. We often met for lunch or talked on the phone. When my mom died, she stepped up as the best back-up mom you could imagine. Right up until her final days, she was looking after me. She always made sure things were OK, checked to make sure that I got home after a visit, and made sure all was well with the Tim and the girls.
And then there were/are my dad’s next two wives. First there was Annie. She was young, so initially I didn’t see her as a “mom,” but we quickly became close friends. Annie was a very talented painter and an incredible cook. She looked after me in a different way. She showed me how to cook gourmet meals. She fed me great books by strong female writers (Anais Nin, Isak Dinesen. and Anna Quindlen to name a few). She took me to plays and dance performances. She taught me how to think about art and ideas in ways I hadn’t before. We took long walks with her dog and talked for hours. She bought me beautiful things when she and my dad traveled to France and Italy. She always looked after me. She always cared for me.
And now I have Beatrice, my dad’s current wife. She is wise, smart, an incredibly talented artist, and speaks four or five languages fluently! She has always opened her house and her arms and let me in. She is always there for me. She is honest and direct when I ask for advice. She is always thoughtful and kind. We have developed such a close friendship, but one that seems special because she is married to my dad. She is “mom-like” and “best friend-like.” We have the best of both worlds.
So on Mother’s Day, I share my gratitude to these women who have helped to raise me and pushed me to become the person I am today. I thank you all for being there for me, for being honest with me, for pushing me to be my true self. Everyone should be as lucky as I have been to have many moms!