Happy Mother’s Day

At 16, I ran away from home for reasons too stupid to mention. I only lasted two days—alternately holed up with my boyfriend at a friend’s house or roaming K Street Mall, trying to evade the truancy cops—before my mother tracked me down and practically locked me in my room for weeks.

At the time, I was angry, but also more than a little relieved. Here was my single mother who, despite our differences, cared about me enough to call the police, interrogate my friends and literally search the streets until she found me. Never mind that she wasn't my birth mother—I was her daughter, I was family, I was hers.

After my parents divorced and my biological father (whom she'd married when I was 4) abandoned all things family, that became more important than ever.

It'd be years before I'd meet my biological mother. That woman missed out on all that teenage turbulence: the running away, the shoplifting, the crappy grades.

She missed out on the good stuff, too: college graduation, new jobs, weddings. I finally met her shortly before my 27th birthday, and, at the end of our visit, she took my hands in hers and said, “You turned out so lovely.”

I give any credit for that to my “real” adoptive mother. She's been there for every good thing, too, of course, but sometimes I feel like the only things I've given her in return are headaches and gray hair.

Happy Mother's Day to all the real mamas out there, blood relations or otherwise.

You deserve nothing but the best. Flowers don't seem like enough.