Full Disclosure: I (Tracie) actually wrote this post April 22, but I didn’t send it over to Cristi because I didn’t want to stir the pot. But the one thing I’ve learned many times over the years is that keeping quiet on important things doesn’t help anyone. So today I feel like stirring…
Recently I had a brief, but less than pleasant, phone conversation with a “friend”. For the purposes of this post, I use the term loosely as the relationship has now been down-graded to “acquaintance” by yours truly.
The call started out pleasant enough with some of the typical ‘what have you been up too lately talk’. The entire conversation escapes me for the most part as it was uneventful. Until I was sharing some of the challenges I was having with the long distance co-parenting of my now 16 year old niece. As I shared in My Inheritance, when I lost my younger sister Lesley to depression and suicide in March 2009, I inherited a teenager.
The challenges of raising any teenager are varied and plentiful. Our challenges go a bit further due to the loss of my sister and the aftermath of that tragedy. They go even further due to the fact that my niece physically lives with my parents in Alabama nine months out of the year and with us three months out of the year in Seattle. But my parents (in their 60s) and my husband and I share the parenting (rules, discipline, boundaries, dating, curfews, etc) 50/50 via phone and a two hour time difference. Tired yet?
Anyway, back to the phone call. My thoughts were that my “friend”, being a mom, would be a little empathetic and maybe even share some of her mom knowledge. Oh no… that was not the case. As I’m chatting about grades and curfews, and how my mom sees these things very differently than Brelin (my teenager) and I, and the conflicts this causes…. She interrupts me with “Yeah, but you’re not even a real mom.” As if the parenting struggles I and my family face on a daily basis are somehow less real than if I had physically given birth to my teenager.
Rather than explore what she did or didn’t mean by that, I ended the call pretty soon afterwards. What she meant was pretty irrelevant to me at that moment. This statement along with others things she had said in the past sounded an alarm about the so-called friendship. This was her attitude about motherhood, that some ‘types’ of mothers were better than others.
Brett and I don’t plan to have biological children, in large part due to my depression. Yet we are very open to adopting when and if we decide we want children. That conversation made me realize that this not only wasn’t a real friendship, but that this wasn’t a very nice person. A friend can at a minimum be less critical or less judgmental when we define terms differently.
This is the kind of person who in the future would likely say something along the lines of “yeah, but that’s not even your real son or daughter” and most likely in front of my future adopted son or daughter. Nope, I don’t need friends like that.
It’s true, I come from a family that sort of defines the term “mom” differently. I grew up in a poor Alabama family where all too often the girls have babies far too young and the aunts and grandmothers do most of the upbringing. And my current family is less than traditional, but that doesn’t mean we’re not a real family.
So I might not get a card this Mother’s Day, but maybe I should…
Health, Healing & Happiness to all.
A Note from Me (Cristi):
Yes Tracie, you should receive a Mother’s Day card this year because you ARE a real mom. Don’t you wish we could all just be less judgmental of each other? Come on Mamas, let’s show this true Mom some support! xo