I consider myself to be very lucky that at my age, nearly 55, I still have my mother with me, living down the street in her cozy senior citizen's apartment.
But in fact, I am lucky enough to have three mothers. I am truly blessed.
My husband's parents have always treated me as the daughter they never had (DH is an only child) and I really do feel as if his mother is another mother to me.
When we were all younger, DH's parents were always helping us; when we bought our fixer-upper of a house 21 years ago, they came up regularly to help us bring it back to its former glory. They single-handedly painted many of the rooms in the house, including the seemingly endless woodwork. They even wallpapered the living room for us!
We enjoyed going on many trips with them throughout the years; Portugal, Italy, and numerous times to Hawaii. And of course they welcomed us to their home for countless dinners and barbecues.
Adventurous travelers themselves, after my father-in-law retired, he and my mother-in-law went on some great trips of their own - an Asian cruise that stopped in Bali and Singapore; a trip to China and Hong Kong; and they went skiing in the Alps every winter until about three or four years ago when my mother-in-law could no longer ski. They were great role models for us - I only hope we will be as adventurous when we are that age.
Throughout our relationship, my mother-in-law was nothing like the mothers-in-law everyone jokes about. She bent over backwards not to interfere in our lives. An immaculate housekeeper herself, she ignored the clutter in our house, and if I apologized for it she would just laugh and say it looked lovely. No white gloves ever came out to test for dust! (And a good thing, too!)
Even though she probably wished for a grandchild, she never said a word to us wondering if it would ever happen. No "When are you going to have kids?" "When will you give me a grandchild?" She was just happy to spend time with us.
DH had been married before, but you would never know it - the name of the first wife never passed her lips for the entire time I have known her. No comparisons, good or bad, were ever made. As far as she was concerned, I walked on the same water her son did, and she made me feel like her own daughter.
Sadly, as you know, my mother-in-law now has Alzheimer's Disease and is in a nursing home, but we are grateful to still have her with us on this Mother's Day.
Who is the third mother, you are probably wondering? That would be my aunt - my mother's sister. She was the sister who didn't marry, the one who ended up caring for my grandparents when they got old and frail. We were always close to her throughout my childhood and saw her almost every weekend.
When I was little she babysat for me, took me to the park, and sat on the floor and played with me when I'd come to visit. She and my grandmother would keep me entertained for hours while my mother went shopping or ran errands. One of our favorite games was "Button, button, who's got the button?" They would hide a button somewhere in the living room and I'd have to find it while they told me if I was "cold" or "warm." Kids nowadays probably wouldn't enjoy something so mundane but I thought it was great.
When I was a little older I thought my aunt was quite exotic, sort of a Mary Tyler Moore-type role model. She was the career woman of the family; she had a job down in Newark and was the supervisor of a lab at a company called Englehardt Industries, which processed and sold precious metals for industry. I thought it was quite impressive that she worked and had an important job like that. She went off on vacations with her girlfriends to the Virgin Islands and other far-off places; she took a tour of the Canadian Rockies by train; she went to Colorado and saw the Grand Canyon.
When I was in my early teens, she joined my parents and me on a trip to the British Isles and we had a grand time touring around together.
She's always been at every Mother's Day celebration because she deserves the same recognition as all the mothers out there. I always manage to find the appropriate card - "To an aunt who's like a mother to me" and we all celebrate together.
My mother and she are opposite sides of the same coin. My mother is the optimistic one who never worries; my aunt worries about everything. My mother is neat, my aunt more on the sloppy side. My mother sleeps till noon and is up till two a.m., my aunt is up at dawn and asleep before midnight. My mother is always late, my aunt is as punctual as Big Ben.
If you met them you'd practically think they were twins - two little ladies with similar features, one with wavy silver hair turning white, the other with darker, straighter hair, both with their glasses and smiling faces. But their personalities are opposites!
We always joke that I've inherited my aunt's worrying and sloppiness, and my mother's lateness and night-owl tendencies. I do think, though, that I have my mother's inherent optimism underneath my anxiety!
Since both DH's and my families were small, we always celebrated Mother's Day together. We'd have my mother and aunt, and DH's mom and dad over to our house and have one big get-together for Mother's Day.
This year we celebrated it separately for the first time.
My father-in-law brought my mother-in-law home to his house from the nursing home today for a Mother's Day brunch of waffles and ice cream. We met them there and helped Mom into the house in her wheelchair. It was her first time back at her home since she had gone into the nursing home in February. She seemed to be glad to be there and was talking a lot by the time she finished her waffles, not making a lot of sense most of the time, but I think we all understood what she meant.
After that DH and I came home and went over to my aunt's for Mother's Day dinner and had a nice evening with her and my mother.
So all in all, it was a good Mother's Day - with my three mothers.
Haiku for My Mom:
She was always there
Wielding the Mercurochrome
Whenever I scraped my knee
Then came the Band-Aid,
The kiss to "make it better,"
Off I ran again.
She made me my lunch
Peanut butter and jelly
And a glass of milk.
Oh, and carrot sticks.
Can't forget the carrot sticks.
And then a cookie.
I brought home a mouse
Please let me keep it Mommy!
It lived in a jar.
Then it got bigger.
It was time to set it free.
So we let it go.
She put up with me
When I found caterpillars
And kept them in jars.
They made their cocoons
And hibernated for weeks;
My mom loves nature
We used to go birdwatching
And hike in the woods.
She loves the Red Sox
She brought me up on baseball
It's still the best game!
When things got me down
I could always talk to Mom
She would lend an ear.
So here's to my mom
And my other two mothers
Happy Mother's Day!