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Kitty Shea
From Live Better America
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Moms Also Raise Each Other

Always drawn to the poetic, I took the home pregnancy test on Mother's Day. By the following Mother's Day, its pink line was a blue-swaddled bundle, and I had Mother's Day cards in the mailbox and dibs on the day. Swinging between wonderment at the miracle in my arms, and bewilderment at how I was going to survive the next 18 years (let alone 18 hours, days and months), I asked only for some alone time that Sunday, mostly to sleep, but also to wrap my mind around what I'd gone and done.

I didn't realize how lost I was until I found them, post-Mother's Day, at Early Childhood Family Education class. Kellee, the former military attorney, was surely early. Suzy, the cancer researcher, would have been on time. Lori and I, the emotional creatives, likely pulled in late. All of us lugging car-seat buckets of baby.

Bellies spilling over our mom jeans, we sat cross-legged on the alphabet rug, obediently clapping and cooing at our babies when the parent educator told us to. We graduated to leaving our tots opposite a one-way window and gathering, support group-like, to talk tantrums and potty training. We became tight, a unit, as did our kids. Sitting on untold park benches, beach blankets and pool chaises, we raised our children on a diet of shared sunshine and sweet structure. We joked that our names -- Kellee, Suzy, Lori, Kitty -- sounded like a high-school cheerleading squad circa 1980. Cheerleaders we were, raising each other up as we let go of the women we used to be and grew into motherhood.

As our children grew, we grew, and grew apart, the contours of our lives no longer following the same arc, what with demanding jobs, divorce, different schools and four kids for whom memories were increasingly their only glue. I didn't go looking for Jane, Kara, Brenda and the others: They were just there, in elementary school parking lots, on playground hillsides, at volunteer meetings. With my next generation of mom friends I commiserated about teachers and coaches and math curricula, but also discussed current events, exercised and went out for drinks, wearing lipstick, no less! We scheduled kid play dates from which all moms but the host would drive off -- sometimes quite fast -- to do our own things. Our dependency on the mom ranks was loosening, as was our children's on us. We were getting our lives -- ourselves -- back.

I spent this past winter sitting on hard bleachers with my new friend, Kelly with a "y," bemoaning our newbie high-school mom naiveté at not bringing portable padded backrests. We talked about our sons some, but they're no longer mysteries; they're strapping young men who tell us -- in no uncertain teenaged terms -- their needs, leaving us largely now to rediscover our own.

Come Mother's Day, I can't pay homage -- "momage" -- enough to my mom. But the day also belongs to my mom friends, to whom I send massive bouquets of light and gratitude. Thank you for being so kind, so solid, so there. Thank you for making me a mom in the fullest, funnest sense of the word. You did well by me. We did well by them. The bouquet is big enough, you know, to share with all the moms who raised you, too. Fill your vases, ladies.

Which moms in your past or present deserve a Mother's Day callout? Here's your chance.

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