I’ve called a lot of women Mom in my life, but none of them gave birth to me.

My friend Heather’s mother, who we sang “John Deere Green” to as we rode in lazy circles around the arena. Well, around the part of the pasture that was fenced off into an arena. There were llamas next door, and Sam, the saddlebred, was always covered in llama spit from trying to make friends. Misty, the Appaloosa who didn’t know how to walk, only jogged spitefully along, wanted nothing to do with Sam. Mom had her daughter’s hair, was shorter than me, was the kind of woman you could tell when other grownups had been mean to you.

My 4-H leader, a solid mass of a woman who could wrestle a young stallion to the ground if she had to. Mom trained German Shepherds, too, and only spoke to them auf Deutsch. She lived in the backwoods, on acres, and her barn was nicer than her house because she spent more time there.

Mom and Maman adopted me at the end of a week-long medieval event, formally, with a wooden comb and a kiss on the cheek. Maman follows me on Facebook, scolds me and my clonesister, mothers us as relentlessly as she does her bio kids, although we are recalcitrant and foulmouthed and insist on not giving her grandchildren. It’s fine; she’s got bushels of lovely biograndkids. Once I drove the two+ hours to see her and returned with a pair of kittens tucked into my shirt for safekeeping, barely weaned and impossibly sleepy.

I don’t remember ever using Mom for the woman who gave birth to me (I’m really sorry about the 72 hours of labor but that was your cervix’s fault, not mine), who was my teacher and my friend. She gave me books by Jean Auel (maybe a little developmentally early but HEY, Valley of the Horses definitely raised my standards for the entire virginity situation, no regrets) Vonnegut, LeGuin, Norton, Sayers, Marsh. And Agatha Christie but I forgive her for that. Covered every window with green cellophane once for an Oz party. I can’t remember if anyone came; she was always more popular with the kids than I was.

I’m never going to be a mother, and I don’t have any particular regrets about that. Or, rather, there are kids that I’ve parented and aunted and I’ve seen about half of them grow into really stellar adults so far, but they’re not exactly going to send me flowers on Mother’s Day. So other than having nobody to DNA-blackmail into paying for my nursing home I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. Most of the time.

It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, and I guess moms are my “It’s Complicated” on Facebook.

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