Like a mother to me

On Mother’s Day I’m getting on a plane and flying to the East Coast to spend a week with one of my most beloved friends. I’m going to help her downsize her belongings so that she can sell her house and move to a cool retirement community outside of Washington, D.C.

Last year, I similarly spent a great deal of time driving up north helping my recently widowed mother-in-law transition into a great assisted living complex in Two Harbors.

My relationships with both of these women have always been part mother-daughter, part dear friend. Their loving support over the years has deeply influenced who I’ve become because they’ve shown me, firsthand, how powerful mother-loving can be, not only to your children, but to your non-children as well.

“Mother-loving” is a combination of unconditional love, next generation advice and wisdom, patience when the advice isn’t heeded, and that loving glow that she always beams at you because she thinks you are the greatest. And with my two, we can also throw in good food, good conversation, lots of laughter and a challenging game of Scrabble.

With my like-a-mother-to-me women, we hardly have any old unresolved emotional baggage or preexisting, antiquated notions and prejudices about one another. It’s not that we are unaware of our flaws, they just aren’t a big deal. And along with the friendship, love, laughter — and my current great box-packing ability — I think I sometimes help them understand their own kids, who are my age, a little better.

I’ve become a better daughter because of them, too. With my own real mom, I’m sorry to say that I know our history sometimes distorts my perspective about things with her. I haven’t always been as understanding as I wished I’d been, but I do a better job now. I treasure my mom, and her love is the foundation of my own mother-loving skills, and these other mothers have added to that base.

I am a better mom, and fairy godmother, because of my experiences with all these women. There is nothing like sitting at a kitchen table with coffee and apple squares sharing tales of daily life, or talking late into the night on lawn chairs on the patio with them. I know I will never outgrow my love of a comforting caress to my brow or a gentle pat on the cheek when I’m heading to bed, or most importantly, the motherly assurance I’ve received so many times, “everything will be all right; you just get some rest.”

Mother’s Day sentiments can sometimes be artificial and obligatory, but the spirit of mother-loving is something to be honored and celebrated, not only with your real mom but also with the many other women who love you in that special way, too.

Terre Thomas owns a gift and bookstore, Fairy Godmother, in the Kingfield neighborhood, and she and her family live in the Lyndale neighborhood. She can be reached at [email protected]