Traditional mothers aren’t the only women who shape us. Mother figures can be teachers, aunts, grandmas, mentors, stepmoms, or any woman who plays a special role in encouraging, inspiring, supporting and nurturing us along the way. They don't even need to have children of their own, it's all about their role model and the bond we create with them.
Mother’s Day is an incredible opportunity for us to recognize the impact our other mothers have on our lives and show them the gratitude they deserve. Lovepop has compiled 15 touching stories of lucky people who have found their other mothers, to whom a thank you message wouldn't fit in a standard card. Enjoy!
1. A Fierce and Loyal Woman - by Keikilani Jackson
Carol is a fire-cracker.
She has been through more crazy times than I can even imagine. She survived major health issues. She picked herself up when others have let her down.
She moved to a new country at 18 all on her own. She made friends. She traveled the world. She had beautiful children. She loved fiercely even when others did not. She is sarcastic and funny and full of life even when life is not so great.
Her favorite phrase is "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!!!" spoken in a slight Irish brogue. Which is exclaimed with passion whenever she is shocked, surprised, dismayed, angry, or just giving her strong opinion on a matter. And I think she is addicted to hot tea as much as I am to coffee!!!
A woman who is a passionate and loyal as Carol is a treasure to have in your life. My sister and I found ourselves quite in love with this woman who is such a fighter. What I didn't expect was how much love she would give to my children. Especially the babies that I brought into our lives through Foster Care and now adoption. When we made the decision to foster and adopt, I knew I was in for an adventure.
What I didn't expect was the strong emotions and back and forths from the broken foster system. Carol, without hesitation, walked into my house and loved the twin baby girls who were so tiny and precious. They fell in love with her and she with them. She is their grandmother. She is their favorite.
She is the one who helped me keep from going crazy when everything WAS crazy. She would call and check on me. She allowed me to let out my frustration and jumped on board when I was on the "I am so mad I could spit" boat! Not once has she ever made me feel bad for being a passionate, scattered brained mommy. When I have been down about myself, she encouraged me. She spoke life back into me when I was exhausted.
She probably has no idea just how much her love and support has meant to me, especially in the last two years.
When we finalize our adoption for our three babies, I plan on finalizing on her adoption too. She is officially going to be adopted as Grandma Carol!
Every one of my children loves Grandma Carol! And I love her too.
She is my "Other Mother."
She is my friend.
2. Nanas Make the World Happier - by Lindsay
My Nana is 89 years old. She has been an important part of my life for 30 years.
During high school, I even lived with her for a while and she always made sure I received lots of love, a home cooked healthy breakfast in the morning, and made my friends feel comfortable at her house.
She knew how much I wanted a family of my own one day and she was so happy when she got to meet my first baby (he was 3 months old) and my second baby (he was 1). She loves my husband and although she hasn't been feeling well lately, she manages to pray for my little family every day.
I love her so much and am so thankful for her love and guidance in my life!
3. My Mother's Soul Sister - by Meade McCoy
I was raised by a tribe, by a community of mothers who held us and read to us and watched out for us all like their own. These mothers had found each other early in their parenting journey, they had seen in each other a common purpose for raising healthy and independent children. They shared a great love for community and food. All they found in each other a desire to learn as much as they could about raising little humans to happy and healthy big humans with kind hearts. They read about babies, breastfeeding, education, neurology, nutrition and love, and they shared what they learned with each other during long days at the park sitting on the grass.
While I know that my life was truly blessed to have had this tribe of mothers watching out for me and helping me find my path with love and endless support, I am most profoundly grateful for the love of my "other mother": Susan. My mother met Susan when she was 6-months pregnant with me, and after a book lent and a bread starter given, they became best friends and sisters of the soul. Susan has been my mother’s confidant and conspirator, a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold in joy for more than half of their lives. Susan has loved my sister and I with the same wholeheartedness she has loved her sons. She has made all of us stronger being a presence in our lives. Over the years she has confused many people when she introduces me as her daughter, never noticing the confusion on their faces because to her that label makes perfect sense, after all she is my "other mother".
Note: Susan has been "other mother" to many, many people in this world. As the founder of Sunflower Creative Arts (a small nonprofit), she has touched more hearts and souls than most of us could ever dream of. She has been the light, love and support in so many lives, teaching parents to be the very best versions of themselves.
Susan loves with every atom of her being and she shares that love indiscriminately. To her, we are all AWAYS worthy and deserving of being loved wholeheartedly.
4. The Most Selfless Woman Alive - by Amy Kempton
My Aunt Linda has always been more than an aunt to me.
When I was a child, she taught me the feminine side of life while embracing that I was a tomboy. There was never a time that she was too busy to talk. If I called she always took the time to listen, encourage and support. I would always walk away feeling empowered and like I could overcome whatever was in front of me.
She is a builder with her words and actions. I am a stronger woman for knowing her. I've watched her go through so many heartbreaking hard things and her faith never faded.
She knows where her strength comes from and has been one of the strongest women I know.
After I got married and went through multiple miscarriages, she was there with an empathetic heart and prayers that soothed my soul. She knew loss and knew how to help me get through my loss.
As an adult now with a family of my own, I live 2 1/2 hours away. We still see each other often, text, call and have power shopping trips. We giggle over coffee and always include ice cream. She is my mom's best friend, and in turn her and my mom are my best friends.
She is my safe place, my example, and a person I would give my life for.
I love and respect her more than words can express.
5. God Sends Us the Angel that We Will Need in Life! - by Colleen Boyle
It all began when I accepted a new position as the HR Manager of a law firm when I was 24. On my first day I met Betty, my secretary.
Betty was a single Mom of three active boys. She was about 18 years older than me, absolutely stunning, with a personality that I immediately fell in love with. Betty was pretty much keeping a roof over the boys head, caring for them, getting them to soccer practice, struggling financially, but you would never know it. She smiled and was upbeat every day!
I came from an alcoholic home and was still thriving living in a chaotic environment because I did not know how to live in a calm, no drama, life. Betty quickly took me under her wing. When I fell in love with my husband-to-be and wanted him to change some habits, Betty told me to love him just the way he is. When I became angry with his family or friends, Betty taught me to let it go.
When I became pregnant with my first child, Betty threw away all the chocolate and bad food I kept hiding in the office. She taught me to not hold grudges, not follow the alcoholic turmoil I was accustomed to, laugh at myself, laugh often, embrace those around me, tolerate those I don’t understand, ignore those who are mean, and ALWAYS put my children first. I eventually left the firm, and kept in touch through Christmas cards.
I returned to the firm 22 years later and found Betty still there. Still stunning, still laughing and living life to the fullest. Our relationship continued without skipping a beat. Betty has been and will always be my “other mother” and one of my very best friends in the world. She is my voice of reason, my calm, and the person I reach out to when I need a friend who will never judge me and who will just be there for me. I love her completely, unconditionally, and I owe her a lifetime of “thank yous”!
I love you Betty Badolato ! XOXO
6. Heart of Gold - by Tia Borkowski
Cathy has known my husband since he was a young boy. When his own mother passed away, Cathy became like a surrogate mom, great friend, and big sister all rolled into one.
When I first met her, I knew it was her approval I would need above anyone else in my husband's life. Fortunately, she gave me her blessing.
Cathy has overcome more than her fair share of struggles and yet, she spends her days devoted to helping others. She battles chronic pain but always has a smile and a big hug ready for anyone in need. For her family, and those she's chosen as her adopted family, she never gives any less than all she has.
On the surface, she's just a pretty great hairdresser. But every person who leaves her chair leaves it feeling lighter and happier than when they sat down. She sends them away with a piece of herself.
Last summer when my husband and I got married, Cathy played both mother of the groom and bride. She helped us secure a venue, helped us plan, helped us decorate on the big day, and helped me transform into a princess. There's just not enough words to thank her for all she's done, all she is.
7. Lover and Fighter - by Cathy Osborn
I nominated my aunt Margie.
She was there at my birth, and has been watching out for me ever since. She has done everything from raising me, teaching me to cook, giving advice, and keeping my chin up during the rough patches in life. All while going through her own battle with breast cancer.
The cancer may have taken some if her body, but she never let it take her caring spirit, good nature, or sense of humor. She truly is the mother I always wanted and needed. I tell her every day how much I love her, but she'll never know how much of a hero she is to me.
8. My Cajun (West Texas actually) Mother - by John Wise, COO of Lovepop
After college I moved to rural Louisiana to take an amazing job with a rapidly growing boat builder - Metal Shark Boats. I was so excited about the job, but so upset and nervous about leaving all my best friends at school and moving to this small town where I knew exactly zero people.
If there was one thing that gave me comfort - it was Donna Gravois. From the moment I met her I could feel the warmth, friendliness, and care. She fed me, she housed me, she laughed with me, and she helped me become the professional that I am today.
She enabled me to give my work everything I had. She made sure everyone on the team had what they needed both personally and professionally. She cooks the absolute BEST food! She was so proud and excited about the work we were all doing. Donna's love is contagious. It permeates the culture of Metal Shark.
And as I moved on to build a company of my own, I make sure to carry that love forward.
I bring it to Boston and to Lovepop and I do my best to ensure everyone who interacts with our brand feels the love and care inspired by this amazing person.
Officially Donna was my boss's boss and owner of the company I worked for, but in actuality Donna was my Other Mother.
9. Amazing! - by Lori Kinniburgh
Linda is my older sister.
My parents separated when I was very young. We lived with my father. Linda was the person I went to for everything. She was always there for me when my father didn't understand me. She was a protector to me. Our father died when we were teenagers. We went back to live with our mother.
Linda was still my biggest supporter! She would help me clean my room, pick out my clothes, help me with my homework. She mentored me in sports and life. When I went to boarding school she surprised me for parents weekend. When I went to college her house was my home away from school. She help guide me through the perils of life. She taught me how to parent my children.
She was the mom that broke the mold on over the top birthday parties. She did home parties. I would emulate her parenting for my kids. How to be selfless, kind and caring. She is the most supportive and caring person I have ever known. There is nothing she won't do for people. She has dedicated her life to her family and those less fortunate. There is not a person who has met her whose life has not be touched or changed. She encompasses what a mother is.
Even though she was born as my sister, she has been as loving, caring and supportive as a mother. There is nothing I don't do before talking with her.I love her with all my heart.
10. The Ultimate Other Mother - by Erika
Susan Caruso, founder of Sunflower Creative Arts is a mother to all she encounters.
With light beaming from her soul through her eyes, she embraces all she encounters with the same joy and glee. She has the power to make you feel as though you could be most anything, because she truly believes in you. She brings with her a joy and faith in humanity that is contagious.
She is the Ultimate Other Mother to countless families and children spanning well over twenty years. Like a ripple in a pond her love is poignant and ever-expanding. I am grateful to have been born in this lifetime to experience a glimpse of this beautiful being.
She is the Ultimate Other Mother <3
11. Sherry - by Joyce
Sherry lived a life that no other mom has lived.
A mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, her life was not an easy one and yet, she still continued to bring the best out of people with her supporting and encouraging words.
Her passion about special needs children and her understanding about what parents went through gave not just me courage, but many other people. Her support of me quitting my career and starting my own business. Talking to me about my fears as a special need mom. Her non-judgement zone was something I needed. Her actions to make sure she lived life the way she intended was so encouraging to me that words can't express how much I love her.
Today, she is fading away as cancer takes over her body. Not only did she touch my heart and I was lucky enough to be #TeamSherry she touched many other.
I love you and you are the other mom that helped me and my family.
12. An Angel Among Us - by Henry Johnson
I grew up on the streets in Boston, and my mother had to work, so she would leave me at the playground to play by myself every day. One day, while I were playing, one of the local nannies (Teresa Gomez) saw that I was playing all by myself. She gave me a snack, but otherwise let me continue playing.
Over the course of the next few days, Teresa would bring me more food, clothes, and even a few toys. I became friends with the child that she watched (Ashley Hannover), and Teresa started watching me, and bringing me back to the Hannover's house without them knowing. Every day I would meet her at the playground, play for a while, and then go back for lunch, and the afternoon.
She would then walk me back to the playground in the evening and my mom would pick me up. Over the years, I grew closer and closer to Ashley Hannover, and although we didn't ever date, I always felt a strong bond with her. I graduated high school, and Teresa helped me get enrolled in some community college mechanics classes. Ashley went to the University of Southern California (USC) where she studied to become a doctor.
One day Teresa brought her car in for some work at my shop, and Ashley was sitting in the passenger's seat. I hadn't seen her in a few years. They were going out for lunch to catch up on all that had happened since she had moved away. They invited me out, but since I was at work, I made plans to catch up with Ashley over drinks. Eight years later, we are now married and expecting a boy in June. Ashley is working in Newton as a pediatrician, and I am the head mechanic at the local Jiffy Lube in Framingham. Teresa lives in Medford, and I still stop in once a month to give her updates on life, and now the pregnancy. Mother Teresa is the unsung hero that is my other mother.
13. Always Open Arms - by Jenn
I first met Mrs. Lee when I was 15, awkwardly walking on the side of the road trying to get to the first cross-country practice of the season.
I had just transferred schools, didn't know a soul, and had snuck out of the house to go on this endeavor. Both of my parents are immigrants, and both worked exceptionally hard and long hours to buy their first house in the suburbs.
However, we'd lived in a pretty rough neighborhood before this, and leaving the house to run laps in the woods with strangers was high on their list of "things you really shouldn't do ever." So there I was. Walking with a hastily scribbled map, kind of hiding in the bushes, and roughly 3 miles away from where I needed to be. I heard a honk from behind me -- Mrs. Lee, driving her minivan and ushering me into the car to go to practice with Kristen and Eric, who I'd just met two days before. Without hesitation, I hopped in.
Over the course of the next two years, Mrs. Lee would drive me to practice, pick me up from school when my own parents weren't slated to come and get me until 9pm, and let me hang out at her house (and eat all of her snacks) whenever I wanted to.
Throughout these transformative teenage years, she encouraged me to do things that interested me and was always a wonderful listener for the things that my own parents couldn't understand about high school in America. It is no doubt in my mind that because of Mrs. Lee, I am who I am today. Because of her kindness, I was able to take part in things that interested and inspired me that my own parents weren't able to get me to or didn't want me to do. There was an abundance of opportunity for me out there, and Mrs. Lee was the one who both literally and figuratively got me from point A to point B. I'd never felt such hospitality before I met Mrs. Lee - normally, somebody always wanted something in exchange, a favor in return. But Mrs. Lee didn't want anything, and I certainly never said "Thank you" enough.
So thank you Mrs. Lee, for being an amazing other mother to me all of those years!
14. She Was the Starting Point of My Confidence - by Ana Raposo
Before I met Becky, my self confidence was nowhere to be found and I wasn't putting too much thought on who I'd be in the future. I felt as if I was as small as a mouse and nobody cared about what I had to say.
After a period of time, I began to think that I was never going to have a voice. As I participated in Becky's program that she started with her husband, The Possible Project, I felt as if I took a "growth potion" that shot me up to being bigger than I ever was. And that growth potion was Becky's presence throughout all of it. Her energy. I feel as if I drank several cups of coffee just by spending time with her. Her laugh. I could joke with her for hours and she'd have even more laughs in her. Her compassion. It shines so bright, you need to wear three pairs of sunglasses. And her confidence in you.
She has the ability of making you feel worth like not one, but two million bucks. With the guidance that Becky provided throughout the years we've known each other, I was able to gain the confidence to try and make my dreams into a reality and feel so much better about myself. And something tells me that there's so much more I can learn from her. I'm SO grateful for the relationship that we share. She truly is like another mother to me. And I wouldn't change that for the world.
15. Charity Bell - by Colin Spillane
Growing up, my dad was a high school choir director.
Each year I would meet hundreds of young kids who would all do their best to transpose their faultless 16-18 years worth of "wisdom" on me (thankfully the vast majority of that "wisdom" was quickly forgotten).
Every once in a while, one of these kids would actually impact me. They would do/show/say something that would stick with me forever.
Charity Bell was one of these. The circumstances of my spending time with Charity aren't especially pretty. Her mother was in a downward spiral, battling mental health issues and alcoholism. My parents recognized this and allowed her to spend as much time with our family as she needed.
While Charity was spending time with us, she would work to explain the things that were happening in her life that I couldn't understand. The troubles that she was having with her family, why she was spending time with us, and ultimately the death of her mother. Charity always had a knack for simplifying things in order for me to comprehend.
After high school, through the strong suggestion of my parents for her to consider going to college, Charity went on to train as an opera singer at the New England Conservatory. After college, Charity decided to pursue other ways to give back, and joined the Peace Corps. She spent 18 months working in a remote African village delivering over 60 babies as a lay midwife. She returned and spent time as the Founding Director of an arts/youth development foundation for at-risk youth where she not only oversaw the first grant making cycles of a multimillion dollar endowment but also led the reconstruction of a Boston landmark building into an arts space for youth. It was also at this time that she began working as a foster parent.
Being one of four emergency foster parents in the Boston area, she took in over 100 newborns (many from drug-addicted parents), over a 10 year period.
During this period, she applied to and graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School, got married, and had a child of her own. Even with all of the stress that she brought upon herself, she always made a point to visit with me and my family over the years.
The compassion that she has shown, not only to me, but to the countless people that she has interacted with in her lifetime, has been one of the greatest lessons that I have ever had the opportunity of learning.
Charity Bell has made it a mission to change the world in which she lives every day. I am grateful and lucky to call her my Other Mother.
Do you know an extraordinary woman? Someone who has inspired you or been there for you? Someone you could call your Other Mother? Have you ever told her that she's awesome?