Happy Mother’s Day. If you’re a woman person, you’ve played an important role in the life of at least one kid, whether you yourself are a mom or not. I thought I’d take up my Babble bandwidth this week to say thanks to some of the key xx-chromosome wielders in my daughter’s life. These are the women that not only amaze me daily with their ability to navigate the world with strength, creativity and kindness, but who are teaching my daughter to do the same, in ways I could never replicate. Wonder Women, each and every one.
#1: Her Mom
Top of the list, Cream o’ the Crop, Wonderest of all the women, the woman who’s teaching my daughter so much every day as our kid careens towards adulthood at an alarming speed. As Riley gets older, I see her taking on more and more of her mom’s admirable traits. Our girl is laser-smart, quick-witted, and resilient. She’s kind, but she suffers no fools. She’s got poise, but she can also be Galactically Silly. She’s not afraid to speak out for what she believes in. These are qualities she got from her mother, a woman who’s overcome significant challenges that life has thrown at her. When my girl becomes an adult, she’ll be a force to be reckoned with, just like her mom. I wouldn’t have it any other way. If my daughter turns out half as kick-ass as her mother, I’ll be a happy and grateful dad. I already am.
#2: Her Grandma
My mom. The woman Riley calls “Amma.” I forget the origin of the title, but I think it’s awesome when kids name their grandparents something unique and personal, a moniker that represents a special, one-of-a-kind relationship. This is the connection Riley has with her grandmother. For my daughter, my mom is the wish granter, the secret keeper, the playmate, the holder of the magic wand. Watching the two of them together, I’m convinced of what I’ve always suspected — that my mom has actual magic powers. She doesn’t want to spoil my daughter; she just wants to love her and sprinkle fairy dust over my girl’s existence, and be her best friend. Truly, she’s “Practically Perfect in Every Way.”
#3: Her Aunt
Riley’s aunt Kris is tireless in her devotion to her loved ones. She’s someone who holds family above everything else in her life. I know this not just because she’s amazing to her niece — but even after her sister and I divorced, after I came out of the closet, she made sure I knew that we’d always be family. This is a person with two kids of her own, a grandson (at an early age), a job, and a busy, busy life. I’m not sure how she does it all. I’m 60% sure she has bionic parts. She’s always had the wisdom of an expert parent, and the ability to be steadfast and calm when Riley’s own parents were exhausted, cranky and crazy. She will always, always hold out her arms for my daughter. Riley’s lucky to have her.
#4: Her Other Aunts
There are several other women who have been profoundly influential in Riley’s life. They’re not blood relatives, but they might as well be. They’re certainly family. Friends of mine, and friends of Riley’s mom. Women who are dynamic, who are loving, who have always looked out for Riley as if she was their own child — even though they have children of their own. Over the past two years, as Riley dealt with divorcing parents and a shifting family structure, these women have played board games with her, given her cookies and band-aids, kept a watchful eye, and always made sure that she knew she was loved. Ashley, Sara, Jamie, Elaine, I’m talking to you, ladies. You’ve given her a community, and set the gold standard for Chicks Who Rock. You should totally start a band.
#5: Her Teachers
I can think of three particular teachers over the past several years that have been so damn wonderful to my kid. See, Riley is a dangerous mixture of Smart and Sensitive. Some teachers get her, and some don’t. Which I completely understand. But here’s to you, Ms. S, Ms. H, and Ms. W. You three saw through Riley’s Tough Girl armor, and identified the vulnerability beneath. You encouraged her, you challenged her, and you showed her kindness and patience that’s pretty rare in classrooms these days. (You also refused to put up with her drama. Thank God.) You’ve helped her realize she’s intelligent, that she’s important, and that she can accomplish anything she imagines — notions she wouldn’t trust if they came from her parents alone.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. You have my heartfelt gratitude. My girl is who she is because of you. I’ll say it again: Wonder Women, all of you.