The lady who I called my Mom was actually my stepmom. But she was hurled into fulltime mom-dom when I was 13 months old and my father (unexpectedly) brought me home to stay. She didn’t argue – she took a deep breath and did what she could to be the best mother she could be.

Woman smiling at a new born baby
Momma Barb holds Cara on her birthday

I wasn’t an easy child – I was depressed from an early age, creative, and gifted. I had a hard time forming healthy attachments to people, stemming from early trauma. I was kind of a mess. At some point, I hurt her feelings very badly when she asked me if I wanted to be adopted by her and I said no. I didn’t understand at the time what it meant, and how difficult it was for her to even offer that sacrifice.

She left my father when I was around 8, but she continued to be my Mom from where ever she was. She would call my dad early on cold mornings to make sure that I had a coat on before I got on the bus. I visited her on some weekends, even though there was no legal standing to do so. She came to orchestra concerts, recitals, and my graduation from high school. She wanted to be there for my college graduation, but she was undergoing treatment for the cancer that would eventually take her life, and she was too sick to travel.

She was the third person to know that I was pregnant with Viktor, after myself and Tyme, which had been a 2.5 year struggle with infertility. She was always the parent I called when I wanted to talk, whether it was good or bad news. All this, with no blood relation and no obligation to continue her closeness.

Woman holding a new born baby
Holding Viktor on their birthday

Momma Barb passed away 12 years ago, and the world lost one of the most compassionate, funny, empathetic people its ever brought forth. Viktor remembers her as “Basia,” a beloved grandmother. Cara was only one and a half, but I’m still so happy that Mom got to meet her before she passed.

The anniversary of her death always comes with a heaviness that I can’t seem to shake. I try to fill it with thoughts of how proud she would be of my adult accomplishments, of the relationships I’ve managed to form, of the parent I’ve become. She was my role model in many ways, and my litmus test for how to proceed when met with life’s choices. She will always be my pillar parent, because that was a choice she made, and she never backed down from her duties.

I love you, Momma Barb. I miss you.

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