I was a teenager when I first met a woman I would come to call Mom. Technically, she wasn't my mother. She had no biological kids of her own, and we weren't even related. But she was the kind of woman I could turn to for common sense advice on the tough stuff that comes with being a teenager: boys, college, my (real) parents.
Women like her are a godsend for struggling teenagers. They're also the nightmare of mothers everywhere, mothers who see another woman being called "Mom" and feel threatened that they're losing THEIR rightful place as their child's one and only mother.
Now that I'm a mom, I can sympathize. Being my daughter's mother is something special, something I don't have to share with anyone.
And yet, if my teenage daughter finds another "Mom," I'd like to think I'd be OK with it.
Remember what it was like to be a teenager, when you didn't feel comfortable talking to your parents about everything? Sometimes you need someone else to bounce ideas off of or someone to comfort you. Sometimes you need to feel listened to, not judged.
That's where an extra "Mom" comes in, an extra adult who cares about our kids.
They're better, in many ways, than a child's friends because they offer the benefit of experience and aged wisdom, things well-meaning teenagers don't have when they dole out advice. They tend to know a little bit about the world and have the sense to report to you when there are real problems that require parental attention.
As much as an extra Mom is a stand-in, she's also an extra set of eyes and ears.
She's someone your kid will talk to when she really needs to talk.
I called Deb "Mom" not to piss off my own mother but because I felt like she looked out for me, like she truly cared for me, and I wanted to show her that I loved her. As it turned out, I made a good choice. We transitioned to adult friends and remained that way for years, right up until her sudden death a few years ago, and during that time, she counseled me through many a rough time. She was the woman who made a quilt for my baby daughter (that she still sleeps under at bedtime) and watched my dog when I went on vacation.
She wasn't my mother in any biological sense of the word, but she was a woman who was special to me (still is special to me).
I want my daughter to have that, to have an adult in her life who she can count on in addition to my husband and me -- not instead of. I don't feel threatened by that, by more love for my kid.
I don't need to. I'm still her mother. No one can take that away from me.
As my friend Eve Vawter said over at Mommyish, when explaining she would have no problem with her kids calling a stepmother Mom, "I am their mom, I have the stretch marks to prove it, and I will always be their mom, but as far as I’m concerned, the more humans my kids have in their lives who they are close to and have good relationships, the better."
Got that? More love = good for my kid.
What do you think? Would you be hurt if your teen called someone else "Mom"?
Image via edenpictures/Flickr