“Women who have mothered, guided, supported, and loved people that they didn’t give birth to (and yes, pets are absolutely included in that). Having a family isn’t a right; it’s a privilege. Sometimes sharing DNA with someone makes you family, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s about how you treat people. You can have a mother figure in your life, a best friend that’s more like a sister, or a boss who’s mentored you from day one, and that woman is just as important (and for some, more so) as the one who did or didn’t raise you.”
The quote above was from an online article entitled “Why You Should Celebrate All Women on Mother’s Day” by Jenna Whitecar. This article caught my attention for many reasons.
The debate rages on about Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and surely, other holidays. I have heard how Hallmark created holidays which led all us Americans to celebrate “fake holidays” – fine that they were “inspired”, I will not call them “fake”.
I was raised to respect everyone and understand their positions in life. Some people become parents, by nature or by choice; some people lead lives single, some marry; some are loners while some long for a familial embrace. I have led a life filled with the embrace of many family members and I have watched as family numbers have dwindled. I have seen the same things happen with extended family. And although I am admittedly not the best person when it comes to holidays, birthdays, card-sending and all, I do believe that when it comes to holidays, well wishes for the day should be unlimited.
For those of you that don’t know my background, I was adopted. The woman who I called my mother, Mary Parmel, did not give birth to me. But she and my father saved my life at the ripe old age of five months. No, I am not implying that the circumstances surrounding my birth were dire – I am simply stating that the two people who went through years of meetings, interviews, home checks and more, provided for me a life I would not change. My parents gave me home, shelter, love and family; they gave me the gift of knowing that extended family comes in all forms – all my parents’ childhood friends from Queensbridge Projects became my Aunts and Uncles – and are to this day, alive or passed, all due the respect for their lives, stories and place in my life.
To know that some people place limits on relationships truly resonates with me on Mother’s Day especially. My mother was famous for her “expectations” – she could be quite critical when those expectations were not met by anyone she thought should – and she would let you know that as well. But the one thing she made sure I knew UNEQUIVOCABLY was this – respect was paramount.
To this day, I still address all my Aunts and Uncles by their titles and names. It is something that I feel shows respect and honors what my father and mother taught me – it may be an old way of thinking, but respect is tantamount to fostering those special relationships.
On a day like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, the debate rages on whether or not you should wish someone who does not have children, well wishes for the day.
“Women who have mothered, guided, supported, and loved people that they didn’t give birth to (and yes, pets are absolutely included in that).” I have taught hundreds of students (some who have liked me, some who have hated me and some who still call me “Miss Parmel”); I have employed over 65 people who have called me by “Jane” (and probably a few other names I cannot publish in an otherwise ‘G-rated’ blog post), who call me to this day, asking for guidance, answers and support for themselves and their new ventures; and I even had a puppy who showed that I can actually take care of a living creature!
“Having a family isn’t a right; it’s a privilege.”
My mother and father believed this whole-heartedly; the rest of their families did as well, creating their families through adoption many times over.
“You can have a mother figure in your life, a best friend that’s more like a sister, or a boss who’s mentored you from day one, and that woman is just as important (and for some, more so) as the one who did or didn’t raise you.”
Marie, Marie-Ange, Liz, Rae, Janet, Lucille, Margie, Suzy, Peggy, Aunt Mary D., Auntie Lil, Barbara, Theresa, Pina, Lella, Elina, Susan; Aunt Flo, Aunt Marie, Marvy, Carmen. Just some of the names that have filled “family” over the last half-century.
So debate if you want, ignore the nurturing, ignore the value of community, negate another’s journey. It’s entirely up to you. Acknowledging what position someone has had in your life and the place you hold them in your hearts should never be up for debate. Wish them a happy whatever the day is.
“Sometimes sharing DNA with someone makes you family, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s about how you treat people.”