On Mother’s Day, I think of all the people who have stepped in to care for children when biological parents couldn’t be there for whatever reason.
This photograph was taken in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. On the left is my great aunt Mary in her early 20s. On the right is her sister, my grandmother, Freda. Freda and Mary were two of three children born to Greek immigrant parents who came to the United States in their teens. Since Freda died when I was a baby, it was Mary who felt like a grandmother to me growing up. Interestingly, this pattern of one sister stepping in for the other ended up repeating itself one generation later.
Freda had two daughters: Barbara, my aunt, and Mary, my mother. Although I lived with my parents until age 16, it has been my aunt Barb and her partner Donna who have felt like mothers to me for most of my life. I share this because many of us are raised and supported by people who are not our biological parents, and this is ok. Family is a wonderful, messy, often very difficult thing. I’m so grateful for the “alternative” family I have come to call my own.
From my great aunt Mary, I’ve learned something about quick wit, the importance of generosity, how to throw together a classy outfit in no time, and how to make a beautiful, inviting home. My aunt Barb—through many powerful conversations and simply by being who she is—has taught me so much about confidence, joyfulness, and resilience. And from my aunt Donna, beyond learning how to check the oil in my first car, I’ve learned a lot about how to cultivate compassion for ourselves and others, patience, and faith.
– Lex Schroeder
Lex Schroeder is a social entrepreneur and a freelance writer. She’s the co-founder of the New Prosperity Initiative, a project with the aim of publicizing the efforts of individuals and organizations working to build social and economic prosperity.
Revisit Lex’s interview on No Country for Young Women
Lex’s website: lexschroeder.com
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– Interview by Elena Rossini