Posted in happiness, kids, longreads, love, moms, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

My Son Calls Someone Else Mom…and I love it!

My son’s father and I divorced when he was 1. 

He got his step mom when he was 2. 

He started calling her mom when he was 3. 

People used to ask me how I could stand for my child calling another woman mom. Actually, some still do. 

When we got a divorce, I knew this meant I would be away from my child. There would be days he would wake up and go to sleep without seeing my face and that fact shattered my heart. That was not the idea of motherhood I signed up for nor was it the kind of childhood I had imagined for him from before I even knew of his existence. 

When he first started calling someone else mom, it stung. It stung deep. I was worried I would be replaced or he would end up confused. I hated the idea that someone else could possibly be equal to me in his eyes; I just wanted to be the greatest human he’d ever met (let’s be real, I still do). 

It wasn’t until he was 4 and we could have an actual conversation about titles, right around when he wanted to call his step-dad “dad”, that it all made sense.

He hadn’t been calling her mom because he had no faith in me, he had been calling her mom because it felt normal. When he was there and the other kids said it, he could too. He could blend in and not feel weird; he just wanted to have a “normal” life. He also found comfort in her. He knew she wasn’t me, I was his favorite, but having a mom when he was away from me made it better for him.

He told me about games she played, parks they went to, and things they did. He smiled and giggled sharing funny stories that had made him happy. He said she was nice and she loved him. He said he loved her too – if that was ok with me. 

In that moment, the clouds parted and I understood how lucky I was to have her in my son’s life. She wasn’t there to replace me, she was there to love him when I couldn’t. Though we had never really met, we were silent teammates in the loving of this boy. Two women, on opposite ends of the spectrum, loving and guiding a small boy. He was the one I gave birth to, the one she signed up for, and he loved us both. 

I realized how lucky I was that he called her mom. He wanted to call her mom. That meant he felt her warmth and love wrapping him up when I could not. He knew she would make sure he had breakfast and make dinners he liked. She would play games, go to the park, and be silly with him during his time away from me. I may not have seen him every day, but he laid his head down every night knowing a woman who would keep him safe and loved him was just down the hallway. Always. No matter which house he was at.

So, no. I had no problem with my son calling another woman mom. Fourteen years after he first met her, she is no longer his step mom on paper, but she is still his mom. She loves him, she has seen his ups and downs, helped him when he was sick, and is still in his corner to this day. I have no doubt she will be there for him forever, either. I’m not hurt at all he calls her mom, in fact, I’m grateful he does. Kids need all the love they can get.

He found a soul that loved him purely and forever, which is what motherhood is really all about. It has nothing to do with a bloodline or what a piece of paper says. Motherhood is about love, dedication, tough love, and hopeless optimism for a child’s life. It comes from moms, but sometimes from other people our children are blessed to come across in life. It’s a gift to know your child is loved like you love them when you are not around. 

I’ll never be replaced, neither will you, but knowing your child is loved brings a peace unlike any other. 

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone. The moms, step moms, bonus mom, grandmas, aunts, cousins, best friends, teachers, neighbors, and anyone else who steps up to lovingly guide a child through the complexities of life. When they’re scared, lonely, and can’t be by their mom – you are a gift from God. 

Thank you to everyone who is part of my kids’ mom tribes – especially Ben’s other mom. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Hatred Stirs up Conflict

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

~ Proverbs 10:12 NIV

I like this verse for it’s straight forward, no nonsense point: if you’re doing things out of anger or with people who are full of hate, you know you’re in a bad place and likely going to have problems. 

If you’re with loving people, doing things with love, you’re going to get through everything and it’ll be fine. All of that, I am down with and I thought that was it until I couldn’t sleep one night and kept thinking. 

I also think it relates to how we live and respond to the people around us. 

If someone has hurt you in the past, but you have forgiven them, then you should love them and move forward. You know that love is going to cover the past offenses. They’re covered up and they’re gone. But if you’re still holding on to anger and resentment and hate, that’s when you’re going to keep bringing that problem up. It’s like picking open a scab – it can be almost healed, then you rip it back open to all kinds of hurt. You aren’t healing or moving forward. 

Is it ever possible to fully forgive and forget? 

I have been hurt by people that I love and forgiven them. I can look back on the actual offenses, things I thought might actually kill me, and I feel no painful emotions. I don’t feel angry, sad or anything. It doesn’t launch me back to the raw state of being hurt . I can see it objectively like”yeah, that happened but I am ok now. We are ok now.” In those moments I pat myself on the back “yes! I got this!” I am loving them and forgiving them and I have nailed this and its great 

But then, if I start to have a disagreement with them about something else, totally unrelated, and that old thing they did starts bubbling up in the back of my mind. Even though I claim and fully believe I have forgiven them and moved on – it still bounces around in my mind.  Like there is still a shred of me that cannot forgive and forget (or even forgive). 

It’s confusing. I wonder in those moments, because I’m not perfect, sometimes I even bring them back up. I do not want to, on any other rational moment of the day I would never, ever do it – but then there it comes spewing out of my mouth.

So have I actually forgiven? 

Am I doing what I’m supposed to as far as loving if I’m still bringing it up because I don’t think I am doing things right, that way. And then, that got me thinking deeper: I totally believe it’s possible to forgive, because I do it. I’m sitting here right now and I can think of an argument with a loved one within the last two weeks when I brought up something that happened years ago. Most days it’s something that doesn’t bother me anymore. 

I mean, it changed some things, but we’re good. We worked through it. And the same thing does with other people in less personal settings. There are people I am on committees and teams with that I’ve had some serious disagreements with. I’ve said things, they’ve said things – but when I think about them now, I’m completely neutral on those incidents. 

I feel like I have forgiven, and I’m not holding it over their heads, but every time I have to go near them to have a conversation about something that could even possibly end up with us not agreeing or having to work through a problem, all those old thing bubble into the back of my mind like a small nagging voice. 

I generally do a really good job of not saying that or bringing them up, because I know that doesn’t do any good. Sometimes I fail but when they bubble up mostly manage to keep myself from spewing it out – but it’s hard. 

So, can we actually forgive and forget? How?