For the StepMom’s…
You Didn’t Give Birth to Me, But You’re the Greatest Mother in the World
You saved my life, and I thank God for you every single day.
Most people meet their mom the day they are born. But I met you when I needed you most: as a lost 9-year-old — overweight, teased, latch-key parents just divorced, depressed, lonely and with no idea who I was or who I wanted to be.
When my dad brought you home, I knew I wanted you to stay, needed you to stay — even if I did tell my dad “she’s nice, but she has no sense of humor.”
Thank you for staying. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for saving my life.
Thank you for really seeing me, for never turning a blind eye. Even when it meant seeing me steal laxatives from dad’s bathroom, and calling me on it, knowing I was trying to be bulimic before I even knew it myself.
Thank you for teaching me, “I am not a mind reader!” No one is. And, “if you don’t ask, the answer will always be NO.”
Thank you for buying me clothes when my birth parents were fighting over who would pay for them. You just grabbed my hand and took me shopping. You made me feel beautiful and wanted and loved.
Thank you for teaching me personal responsibility. That every time you point one finger forward, you are pointing four right back at yourself.
Thank you for always making sure I felt like your daughter, your first, even after my sister was born and you had your own flesh-and-blood baby.
Thank you for continuing to work on yourself, grow yourself, inspiring me to do the same.
Thank you for every adventure, from the silent retreat with Pema Chodron to the very loud martinis on the beach in Florida with Grandma Helen, Aunt Mush and Kath.
Thank you for all the times you saved my life by taking Liv at the last second so I could go follow my dreams as an artist, and nurture my soul as a wife and woman.
Thank you for the nap we took together yesterday when you came to visit. For teaching me to slooooow down sometimes. For the way you stroke my hair, my arm, the way you hug me and teach me so much about expressing love and affection in word, deed and action.
Thank you for showing up, for all the thousands of hours you spent in transit on a plane/train/boat/automobile/subway to come see me all over the world. Because I needed your hug every single time.
Thank you for making me laugh till I cried so so many times. For proving that — despite what I said when we first met — not only do you actually have a sense of humor, but in fact it’s a biting, sarcastic wit I ADORE.
Mommy, your presence in my life, the way I feel about you, and how you literally saved my life … makes me believe in fate, karma, angels, God and all the rest of it more than anything else in my life. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I thank God every day.
I love you. Thank you,
Alysia Reiner is an actress, activist and producer. She’s best-known for her role as “the warden everyone loves to hate,” Natalie “Fig” Figueroa, on Orange is the New Black. Season 5 starts streaming June 9 on Netflix.
This is part of a special series, “Thank You, Mom,” highlighting letters of gratitude from celebrities and notable writers leading up to Mother’s Day. To view the full collection, which will be added to throughout the month of May, go here.