Since my dad was in the Army, we moved around a lot and usually didn’t live near either set of grandparents. So… growing up, on Mother’s Day, it was all about my mom. There are 6 kids in my family and my parents are still together after 55 years this year. We would all go to church, have a meal and the day would be all about my mom, an army wife, a mother to 6 kids, a choir singer, church board member, employee etc etc. My mom is an amazing lady and I still don’ t know how she is still sane after raising all 6 of us kids with all the moves and changes.

Now that I have my own kids, of course, I appreciate what she did all the more; the sacrifices made, the energy she put in and what she got in return (which kids don’t always understand ..not til they get older). She was the role model I had for raising a family.While she was very successful, that model doesn’t exactly fit my family now.

One of the greatest days of my life was becoming a mother. I waited until I was 36 to have a child. After I had my son, I realized that the relationship I had with his father (my husband at the time) was unhealthy and I was willing to tolerate him but that my son deserved to live a life in a happy environment so I moved on. I took my 7 month old son and left.

When my son was 2 I met the man I am now married to. He had 2 daughters that he was raising on his own, they were 5 and 8 at the time. His parents are also local and so his family helped out as they could. We got married just over 2 years ago.

These dynamics changed the Mother’s Day I knew. Mother’s Day was all about my mom and just her. All 6 of us are her naturally born kids, we adore her. While we were kids and did the things kids did, we made the effort for her to have a special day. Now, my Mother’s Day is usually split between me having a day and us going to my in-laws. It’s also different because no matter how much a parent tries to relate to a step child, things are always different than the a child born naturally to you, you just don’t get the history that comes from day 1.

The thing that I have kept in mind is that things are not always the same as the way you grew up, so many times, that’s a good thing. I also remember that these step daughters were abandoned by their mother and have a difficult time on the day because of it. I believe that Mother’s Day for them is tough on them because it’s a reminder for them that their mom made the choice not to be in their lives.

I have never expected to be their replacement mother. I don’t try to be their best friend. I know that they must be resentful that I introduced chores into their lives and that I help their dad see that he’s being maniputlated on occasion and they don’t end up getting their way. What I have realized in all this, with the help of a friend and fellow step mom, is that they will think what they want of me. They will form their own opinion of me and there is nothing I can do to change that. The only thing for me to do is proceed with the best parenting skills I have and teach them the things a parent teaches a child and that’s it; I love them, I protect them, I teach them, I have hopes and dreams for them, I desire for them to grow up to be strong, independant women. The rest is up to them.

Something that makes me feel that I’m doing the right thing is that for the first time, the girls have put a lot of effort into thinking of a Mother’s Day gift. They hadn’t put that much thought into it before. I have learned as I have gotten older that he gift is not about the “thing” but about the thought that goes into it: the search or the crafting, the desire to please the recipient.

Over these years of my life, the details of Mother’s Day have changed but the meaning remains the same. It’s the time to honor mothers and time for mothers to reflect on another year of parenting.