- Posted April 8, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
In praise of “other mothers”
That's What Grownups Are Supposed to Do
ShawnFY's parents divorced when she was young and both remarried. She and her brothers eventually went to live with her father and stepmother Shirley after their mother was killed. "My mother’s death made it hard to accept my stepmother. My younger brothers and I did the classic 'You are not my mom' routine, and we compared the two [of] them endlessly," she said.
Shirley had three children of her own from a previous marriage, and the family just didn't seem to be connecting. So her father and stepmother made the decision to live in separate homes and raise their children apart. "I thought the situation was odd," she said. "I could not understand how a couple could be married but live apart. I honestly did not know if their marriage would even make it."
ShawnFY's father and Shirley didn't move back in together until all their children had graduated and moved out. Her own relationship with Shirley improved as she got older and had her own children. "I saw the immense sacrifice she had and I saw her love for us grow as she came to love my children as her true grandchildren," she said. "She is the only grandmother my son and daughter will ever know, and I am truly blessed that they have her to love them."
"My stepmother has taught me the meaning of the word 'grace.' She has an immensely positive spirit and a joi de vivre that is simply infectious. Even as we pushed her away, she was accepting and loving. She tried so hard to treat us as one of her own."
- Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer
What should have been joyous year for me, my senior year of high school, soon became the anniversary of the most tragic event in my life. One sunny October morning, I awoke with an eye problem. My Mom set an appointment with the eye doctor and we set off on the back roads of rural Louisiana. We would never make it to that appointment. Just miles from our destination, we were hit head on by a drunk driver. I was rescued from the car and brought to the hospital for treatment. In the ER after I was stabilized, my Dad arrived to tell me that my Mom had died instantly.
My parents had divorced when I was young and later both parents remarried. While I cared for my stepmom, it was a stretch to say that I loved her. She had 3 children from a previous marriage and when we visited she cared for us and made a genuine effort to connect.
But, she wasn't our real Mom (I have 2 younger brothers) and we let her know it time and again. She never stopped trying and we never stopped pushing back.
Then, she and my Father did something that not many couples have the courage to do. They loved each other and knew they were meant to be together, but that raising their children came first. So they moved into separate houses and raised us apart. Still married, they managed to get together on weekends here and there. And from time to time, they brought us all together and we began to soften. She just flat out loved us. She loved us over our brattyness, our “you are not Mother,” over our heartbreak. She didn’t love us conditionally, she loved us with her whole heart.
Finally, when all of the kids had graduated my stepmom and Dad moved in together. And anyone who saw them together would know instantly that they were meant to be together.
Now, I am grown and have my own children and family. And as I look back, not as a child, but as Mom who gets up every day and makes breakfast, helps with homework, listens their stories of triumph and struggle at school, I am awed by her constant and unwavering love when we pushed her away at every turn. One day, she sat at my house and we talked about those difficult years and I asked her, “Why did you keep on loving us when we were so awful to you?” Her response was simple yet profound, “Because you were children and I was a grownup. That’s what grownups are supposed to do. I knew you were hurting.”
She is my second Mom and a year ago she was diagnosed with Stage 3 inoperable lung cancer. I didn’t think my heart could take losing her. And I am thankful that today, my second Mom is cancer free and I will love her and cherish her every day of my life because that is what grownups are supposed to do.