Thank You To My Mom Village

Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me. I lost my mom to ovarian cancer in 2007 when I had three small girls. The oldest was six and had just started Kindergarten, the youngest still a baby. In the final weeks of my mother’s life, my husband, Larry, asked what I needed, and I said, “I can’t be a mother right now. I only have the bandwidth to be a daughter.” He got it immediately and set to work putting in place replacements for me, so I could abandon them for what turned out to be too short a time, yet also an eternity. And then, just like that, I was an orphan and had to go back to being a mom. I have a father, but it isn’t the same. It barely comes close. I was adrift without a maternal compass, and navigating the ever-changing waters of motherhood are much tougher without one. Ask anyone who can never utter the words to her husband, “Let me just quickly ask my mom,” or, to her children, “I don’t know. Let’s call grandma.” There are many of us, raising children without the ultimate support, but we are not entirely adrift.

Other moms step in if we let them. I owe a great debt of gratitude to so many women, so many moms who, while never taking the place of my beautiful mother, make this parenting journey better. Other than your mom, to whom will you wish a special Mother’s Day?

To my sisters, who are raising or have raised the most wonderful people. I am lucky to have three sisters who I can call with any problem or question, and even get an answer to, “What would Mommy do?” We are without our compass, but we still have each other — four guiding beacons. We may not parent exactly the same, but our core values are aligned, and therefore, so are we. With 17 children between us, there isn’t a one who doesn’t put family first.

To my best friend, who shares in the joys and failures of my children, as if she were a grandmother. She is always caring, always concerned, always cheering on the good stuff and dismissing the bad. When my kids drive me crazy, she takes their side, just as my mom would’ve done.

To my aunt, my mother’s sister, who never tried to take my mom’s place, but who instead fills some of the hole by being the most amazing and generous aunt to me and great aunt to my kids.

To all my old friends, who remember my mom and allow me to tell stories about her they’ve already heard, and who share the ones they remember. I never tire of hearing them.

To all my relatively new friends, who support my family with carpools and meals and last minute yes responses to desperate SOS calls. These are the women I can call for a recipe, a great book recommendation, help planning a party and they are always up for putting the happy back into the hour.

To my editor at Audible who asked me to share what I’ve learned about mothering, because she remembers me saying, a million years ago, that when you have more children, the love doesn’t divide, it multiplies. She provided me with a platform to talk about what my mom taught me.

And finally, to all the young moms I know who ask for advice. Keep asking please. We are all in this together. After all, life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother, and in the absence of your real one, there are plenty around to show you the way.

Mothering is more enjoyable when you are part of a tribe. Criticize less, fear judgement less, be vulnerable, and take advantage of all the moms at your disposal. They will make the ride that much better!

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.