Previously published in The Campus
The ever-beloved greeting card companies strive relentlessly to present holidays as events surrounded by perfection and embedded in normalcy. Yet, we see consistently in our own lives and in the lives of those around us, that this nuclear family ideal of holidays ceases to exist day to day.
With this connotation surrounding major familial happenings, it is no surprise that Mother’s Day falls into this same categorization. The act of categorizing Mother’s Day into something only for people with traditional motherly scenarios makes it increasingly difficult for unconventional situations to fit into the mainstream realm of consumerism driven festivities.
Despite said misfortunes, it is vital to note, and furthermore tell the stories of, individuals who have broken down the barriers of the “cliché holiday” and have chosen to make the day their own. City College senior, Curtis Ashley, has had an unconventional family for as long as he can remember. Ashley lost his mother when he was just eight years old. He shares that he has “forgotten her voice, her touch, everything.” Just a few years after, he also lost his father.
During this distressing time, Ashley’s aunt took care of him and his two older sisters. “My aunt is the closest thing I will ever have to a mother,” he discloses.
Ashley speaks of his aunt with an incredible amount of love and respect. “It is because of her selfless act that I am where I am today. Had she not intervened, my sisters and I may have been separated, something at the time I couldn’t deal with.” He continues on, “ever since my father’s death in 2012, she has been the driving force of my life. There’s not a single other person on this earth that I owe more to.”
When asked how he celebrates Mother’s Day with his aunt, Ashley answered that in recent years, he has bought her a card to “show that I appreciate all she has done for me.”
Taylor Burgos, a freshman studying childhood education, tells that her parents got divorced when she was quite young. Because of this, her mom “played the role of both parents” for most of her life. This was heightened when her father passed away four years ago.
Burgos is very close with her mother, sharing that she is “pretty much a mini version of her.” For Mother’s Day, her siblings and herself all try to chip in on a gift for their mom. They also attempt to get together for brunch; however, being in different states this year, Mother’s Day may look a little different. Burgos encourages everyone to “embrace what you have and love those in your life.”
Both Ashley and Burgos know what it is like to have unconventional family situations and love deeply throughout the storm. Whether you have a traditional story or one with twists and turns, Mother’s Day is all about finding the joy around you and appreciating those in your life who have been there for you, no matter the technical relationship titles. Ashley hopes that this Mother’s Day we show those in our lives that we appreciate them in small gestures as simple as saying thank you. “These things may seem small and trivial to you, but it can mean a lot to them. Everyone goes through a lot, and sometimes, all you want is to feel appreciated.”
Lastly, know that these seemingly unorthodox situations do not define you or your relationships. Burgos ends her testimony by advocating this, “your situation may not be conventional but that doesn’t make you any less of a great person.”
Design by Carmen Quang
Photo by Curtis Ashley