I don’t have any pictures of my real mom.

And I hate the term “real mom.” It implies that my stepmom was not a real mom to me. She was. My dad and my stepmom supplied a far more stable home to me than my real mom was ever able to.

I don’t fault my mom for this. She did the best she could with the cards she was dealt, and the cards she was dealt gave her not just difficult circumstances, but abilities that weren’t always equal to the task, and weaknesses that many others don’t have to face, and people who don’t face those weaknesses often account themselves stronger than they really are.

So I don’t have any pictures of my real mom. Maybe that makes me a bad person, I don’t know. It doesn’t mean I didn’t love my mom, but I did know who she was, what her faults were, and some of what she felt she had to do to make it in a world that’s not always kind to the weak, not always forgiving of some of the mistakes she made.

My real mom is not with us anymore. Maybe this means she’s at peace. More likely than not she only exists now in the memories of her family and those who knew her. If there’s peace in that, she certainly deserves a portion. I think of her from time to time. And I have to confess, it’s usually with a little sadness that there weren’t more good memories. Oh, I know she loved me. I have absolutely no doubt about that. But past is past, and gone is gone, and it rushes away from us at warp speed, forever drowned out by the troubles of the present and the worries of the future.

But my stepmom is still with us. In the most difficult portion of my childhood and teenage years she was never less than kind, sweet, and understanding to me. I try to think back to a time or incident in which I was angry with or disappointed in her, but for the life of me, I can’t recall a single one. I’m sure I backtalked her a time or two, and I’ve had the occasional fight with my dad… but really… not that many. The single greatest gift my stepmom gave to me was a home and a household where there was so little drama that I can’t bring one overwrought scene to mind.

How many of you can say that about your childhood?

So damn straight my mom gets a phone call on Mother’s Day. I call her mom. I don’t call her stepmom. She showed me what it means to be gentle and kind and caring, and there aren’t nearly enough people like that in this world. If I believed in a god, I would ask him for only one favor: A few more like my mom, please.