Celebrating all women who have mothered me

Each of us had a mother.

Whether we knew that woman, loved - or even liked - her, still have her or lost her to death or estrangement, we all are born to a mother.

Those of us who are very, very fortunate have multiple women who have offered some kind of mothering to us in our lives. I feel lucky to count myself in this group.

First, of course, was my Mom. In a way, she was a study of opposites. She could be very emotional at times, but she also could be unbelievably strong. She was incredibly strict and yet ridiculously silly.

I was fairly sick as a child, with bouts of bronchitis-turned-pneumonia landing me in the hospital each year for much of elementary school. A well-wisher had given me a crocheted Raggedy Ann puppet, and on nights when I needed some cheering up, my mom would make her come to life.

I don't remember what Raggedy Ann said, but I can still see my Mom sitting on the edge of my bed, her right hand transformed into a favorite friend. It's one of my treasured childhood memories of my mom, whom I lost in 2020.

Then there was my grandma Gladys, my dad's mom. She was a woman ahead of her time.

I had a wonderful collection of international dolls thanks to her work with a travel agency, which took her all over the world. She wrote pieces for the local paper and loved to cook. Among her specialties were a casserole she called "supper dish" and a molded lime Jello she filled with cottage cheese and pineapple and served with Miracle Whip. (Weird, but it was the '70s.) She connected me with her nephew, my cousin Peter, a successful Harvard grad whose encouragement was partly responsible for me going to college. My grandma was strong, too, living through a divorce and the loss of her son, my Uncle Don, when he was still a young man.

While the role of godmother is ceremonial for many, mine did not approach it that way. My mom's childhood best friend, Betty, is my godmother - and is she a good one! I had the best-dressed Barbies on the block, donned in her handmade clothes, ready to serve as flight attendants on my Barbie airplane or perform in a ballet or lounge around in their PJs.

My daughter benefited from Betty's sewing prowess as well, with wonderful outfits for her American Girl dolls. The clothes were great, but it was the love with which she created them that made them so special.

My best friend, Michelle, might seem like an unlikely candidate to put on this list, but she belongs here. She became a mother more than a decade before I did. I learned so much from watching her care for her twin daughters, Elizabeth and Katie, who were born very early and needed so much help for the first several months of their lives. And as I followed my own quite lengthy journey to become a mother, she was so gracious in allowing me to pour all the love I felt in my heart onto her baby girls. They are grown women now, and I can't wait to celebrate with them at Katie's wedding this summer.

My birth mom, Pat, took her place on this list after we first connected in 2020. I now know whom I look like and where my love of writing and The Rolling Stones comes from. She never knew me as a baby, but has offered me love and support and laughs as an adult that I will treasure forever.

I can't forget Ainsley, who made me a mom 14 years ago. Her love has enriched my life in ways she probably won't understand until she becomes a mother herself.

What an amazing group of women I have to celebrate on Sunday.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean