A Group Effort

Posted: 11th May 2014 by admin in Blog
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The title of Hillary Clinton’s book, It Takes  a Village, has always appealed to me.   I imagined using a take-off on that title if I were ever to write a memoir. (Little did I know!) Given some of my Catholic school adventures after the parents crossed over while I was running around the world as a 17 year old on my own, I figured if I went with something along the lines of It Takes  a Village to Raise a Child, but It Only Takes One of Me to Raze an Entire Village, we’d be somewhere close to the truth.

It’s true…I come up a bit short handed in the parent arena. Handling that as a kid required some amount of creativity and resourcefulness and I got rather skilled at negotiating around that spot where a mom-of-a-sort was supposed to be. It was an early understanding of family of choice. I made it work. That was the option.

As I was scrolling posts on Facebook this morning, and all of the happy Mother’s Day wishes jumped out at me, I was struck by idea again that I am simply not a product of one mom-of-a-sort. I think I’ve ended up becoming a product of multiple moms-of-a-sort…those women who stood in, stood up, stood with me after the role had to be vacated by the mom-of-a-sort who brought me into this world. Multiple moms-of-a-sort. They helped get me through. And I’ll tell ya, it took quite a bit of the village.

So, a tribute to all of the moms-of-a-sort who were part of that village is in order. Especially since the village was occasionally under attack from teenage silliness, surly moods and hormones. That’s right—not only did I come into the world with one person who was willing to see me through that, I found several others along the way.  Some of them should be canonized, but since leaving Catholicism behind, my version of canonization requires actually shooting people out of cannons, so perhaps we should skip that step until Pope Francis can be reached for consultation.

To the mom-of-a-sort who brought me here. May the pain be gone, may your lightbody relax and untwist, and may there be no need for “bring me two pills of THIS color and one pill of THAT color” after your afternoon nap.

mom of a sort

To her sister, my Aunt Connie, whose house soon became home base, and who (as my cousin noted in her eulogy a couple of years ago), felt so strongly about being a mom, that when the mom-of-a-sort crossed over, Aunt Connie raised not only her own seven kids but to an extent, my brother and me too. Rest well, Aunt Connie. I always wanted to be an honorary Nelson because of you.

Aunt Connie crop

To my sister Pat, to whom I often refer as “a colorful character”, whose son is a year older than I, for whom I would just be “one of the kids” for our whole lives, and who taught me the importance of powerful statements like “Yeah? Up yours!” and “Kiss my Irish ass!” Love you, Patti!


To my sister-in-law Jedda, to a summer of practical jokes, fudge fights and becoming friends as adults, and who cheered me on when I decided to paint the Major’s toenails pink while he napped in his chair. Breathe easy, my friend, and rest well. You are thought of often and with tremendous love.

Jedda crop

To the father’s girlfriend, Marie, who began dating the father when I was in the 5th grade. Marie made us human. Upon my first discovery of the father kissing Marie one evening in our living room, I was certain of two things: 1) my retinas had begun to bleed and 2) the father was just a person.  Marie is now almost 90 and is spending this Mother’s Day in critical care in a hospital in Philadelphia. I wish you comfort and peace.

Marie crop

And to another mom-of-a-sort, Pat, who opened her home to me at a time I desperately needed it and never asked questions. It the type of kindness you can only pay forward because it cannot be returned. Enjoy your day, Mom Miller!

Pat Miller


I am a combination of many people’s efforts and many people’s time. It is an interesting view to scroll Mother’s Day’s posts and think, wow, where do I begin? It is perhaps this history of being given to that set me up well to do what I do in my job…because I had a village and came to know the importance of it.

Cheers to the women of my village. And if you had a village, cheers to the women of your village as well!




  1. Holly Phillips says:

    I am very glad that you have your village… 🙂

  2. susan francis says:

    My friend~
    A mosaic of “mom”——
    loved this piece.
    L, S

  3. Thank you, Holly!

  4. Now there’s a craft project you probably shouldn’t try at home! Thanks, Susan!

  5. LorrieLane says:

    Thanks for sharing – and putting faces to so many names! I’m glad that your village has brought you to where you are – I like this place you are! XO

  6. Thank you, Lorrie! I like it too!

  7. Reblogged this on Urban Tidepool and commented:

    I’m seeing lots of comments about Mother’s Day approaching, and it may inspire another blog post later this week, but for right now, I was inspired to share an older post about all the women who helped me become me, even when there was no Mom-of-a-sort left.

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