Most people are blessed to have at least one mother to love and care for them but I was blessed with three. I don’t usually share my background story but I am far beyond the shame to care anymore. My mother who gave birth to me has schizophrenia and long before I was born did some things that caused her to lose custody of me. My two aunts, her younger sisters, stepped in to take care of me.
For years I was ashamed of my birth mom’s disease and would disconnect in every way possible to the point of “hiding” her from those closest to me. I didn’t talk about her or the fact that my aunt who I lovingly called “Mom” was really my aunt. There is so much stigma and misunderstanding in my community about mental health that I think I understood better than I should have at an early age. I explained away my birth mom’s disease with silly kid explanations that I am too embarrassed to share in this format.
As I dealt with the shame of being a child of “this woman” I also didn’t understand my role in my extended family. As much as I tried not to identify with my birth mom I still did and it caused me to have an unnecessary complex with my siblings and my aunt. My aunt never made a distinction between my sisters (cousins) and I even though adults who knew my background tried to never let me forget. My aunt encouraged me, loved me, and disciplined me just the same as my sisters. She never made a distinction between us and would fight for me if she was aware of anyone trying to make a distinction. As far she was concerned I was hers and that was it.
I am grateful to have had her, my other aunt and my birth mom in my life because I don’t know where I may have been today. As I work in case management and hear stories from clients that went into the system because they didn’t have aunts like I did that stepped up to the plate with no question I realize how blessed I am. My two aunts had the least of their siblings financially but what they lacked in material they more than made up for it in love for all of us. My birth mom’s younger sisters did an excellent job in raising me to be a strong, independent, and compassionate young woman. Here’s to the three sisters whose unselfish act of love allows me to be present and share my story today. Velma, Future, and Pearl I love you ladies to life. Thanks for your sacrifice.
Here’s to another day’s journey of my tribute to having more than one loving parent to sacrifice so much for little old me. Peace.