What does it mean to be a mother?
Through nature and nurture, we learn how to be a mother; after all, no child comes into this world with an instruction booklet.
My story is somewhat different. I come from a blended family. Raised by my maternal grandmother, Winnifred Kathleen Thomas Mooney, and told at 12 years old that the person I referred to and known as my older sister, Aileen Kathleen Mooney was my birth mother. I was ten years old when my grandmother passed away from breast cancer. Luckily for me, I went to live with my aunt and uncle, who technically became my sole guardians and prevented me from ending up in what I describe as the dreaded foster care system. I now had mother number three, Peggy Park Mooney. She passed when I was 27 years old of lung cancer.
In 1996, I finally met my soulmate Stanley and his family. His mother, Zofka Smej Stuhec, is such a gentle, kind, loving mother and grandmother; I have learned so much from her. When our niece Megan and nephew Mattie were babies, she would rock them slowly in her arms and sing them a lullaby – such precious moments.
Since coming to Edmonton in 2004, Stan’s Godmother, affectionately known as my favorite Botra (Slovenian for Godmother), Cecilija Stuhec. My mother-in-law and Godmother-in-law are both incredibly strong women with a heart of gold who love me as their own.
Some may think, and some have said, ‘how would she know what it is like to be a mother? She has no kids. She has no idea what it is like to be a mother.’ A raw heartache that Stanley and I carried for years. The longing for a child to give unconditional love to sadly has not happened. The ignoring, the whispers, the celebrations, the presents, the milestones – all for other children yet not our own.
I recently let go of the pain of not having a child. I realized just how important Stanley and I are to our nieces and nephews and all the kids I had the privilege of working with early in my career at the Dawson Boys & Girls Club and the Pointe St. Charles YMCA in Montreal, QC.
What helped me change the way I viewed motherhood is when I realized that I am truly fortunate to have five amazing women take part in mothering me at different times and stages throughout my life. My mother-in-law, who I get to call Mama, and my Botra continue to teach me things and love me, and for this, I am grateful beyond words!
I’ve learned a mother does not have to be a biological mother or a directly related family member. For me, a mother is the one who changes your diapers, instills values, listens to you when your heart breaks, is there to teach you right from wrong, will protect you at all costs, someone who will drive you to the hospital and be by your side and nurse you back to health, someone who never gives up on you!
That person is someone who will love you unconditionally no matter what, and she will kick your ass when needed. She will work two jobs to get you those stupidly expensive designer jeans and be proud to see your dance recitals…and so much more. It is a lifelong commitment.
To the left is a pic of an amazing mother and daughter, Kathy and Kelley Keehn, who have one of the closest mother and daughter bonds I have ever seen. I love these ladies, and I am blessed to call them my friends!
“I’ve truly never played the lotto in my life because I won the jackpot getting this angel as my mother!” says Kelley.
Is Mother’s Day a public holiday? No, but I think it should be!
Happy Mother’s Day 2021 to every mother, every Stepmother, and every motherly person!
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