A classic snapshot of motherhood often includes of a young woman and a newborn baby, with mother and child growing and learning their roles together. But life begins where “classic” ends, and our community illustrates that in living color.
But what if you never had kids, and then, all of the sudden, you have fifteen-year-old daughter looking to you for guidance, compassion and love?
In 2011, Amy West, three-time camper and member of the Inner Circle (our digital extension to the CP community), found herself navigating unfamiliar waters,learning to be “dad’s girlfriend,” then a stepmother — and source of comfort and support — to a daughter who latched onto her.
“Molly was 15 when I ‘got her,’ as I like to say. She was in the midst of horrible teenage years, and her parents getting divorced. She didn’t have a great relationship with her own mom at the time,” Amy said.
Finding herself in this unfamiliar territory, with no prior parenting experience, let alone experience with a teenager full of angst and frustration, Amy began doing what she already knew how to do: being a leader.
“Never having been a mom, I managed [Molly] the way I managed my employees:I made her make lots of spreadsheets,” Amy laughed. “I taught her to make pro-and-con lists when she wanted something, or even value propositions for why we should get her a new car, or why we should send her to college.”
According to Amy, she and Molly slowly and surely built a relationship of trust and support, which Amy attributes to her honesty and transparency from the beginning.
“Mostly, I paid attention to her,” Amy said. “I made her have hard conversations, but we also played games at dinner. We had to do pit and peak every day. I made her talk to me all the time, since she was so moody. Doing those things got her engaged and opening up.”
Amy doesn’t think she could have birthed a child more like her than Molly is today. She is proud of the young woman Molly has become, and her own role in helping Molly get there.
“When Molly was younger, she was kind of a loner. But she saw how much I relied on and benefited from my own group of girlfriends. Now she’s creating her own friendships based on that model. I’m really proud of that.”
“I also have what Molly calls ‘Amy-isms.’ I’ve told her from day one to be fearlessly authentic, and I have seen a huge transformation with her. I am extremely proud of her for taking the time find herself and be fearlessly authentic.”
“Another ‘ism’ I taught her is don’t make someone a priority who only makes you an option. She says this has helped her to find those friends that she has now, as well as to find her boyfriend.”
Lesson learned: Motherhood doesn’t always look the way it does on greeting cards. Sometimes it looks like a moody teenager, thrust into your life, whether you’re ready or not.
Whatever situation you find yourself in this Mother’s Day, use what you already know, and put your best foot forward. If you, like Amy, make a point to come from a place of love, honesty and patience, you’re already doing motherhood well.