I probably think of my sister-wives (AKA, the women who used the same sperm donor I used) most on Mother’s Day. I’m not sure why this day differs from others, but it does. It could be that wishing each other a Happy Mother’s Day via group text has become a bit of a tradition—but I send and receive those same wishes to lots of folks. I think it’s more because I’m not exactly sure who these women—that I’ve grown to know and love—are to me.
They’re not my sisters—though I do like to describe them that way, and the bond we share is intimate, and familial. They’re not in-laws, cousins or childhood friends—though there’s a connection between us that I’m certain will withstand the test of time. That connection, such a blessing, came as such a surprise.
It’s hard for others to understand but whatever emotional bond formed between us, whatever mental assessment of likes and dislikes and parenting styles we realized we had in common (which varies greatly, let me tell you—it’s not like we all watch the same TV shows and discipline our kids in the same way)—it happened fast. These women went from strangers to family in a matter of days. Maybe just minutes.
Meeting Eden was by far the most intense. After all, it was the image of her oldest child (my daughter’s doppelganger) that set things in motion. The photos of her eldest daughter, looked so much like my Gabi, that when shown to my parents and brothers they all thought it was my kid and collectively said, “Cute, where were you?” It was the twin factor that made the term “half sister” real and screamed… the time to meet is now. Seeing a photo was one thing; meeting in person, quite another. I nearly fell to my knees when I first laid eyes on her daughter, and Eden was there to catch me. So Eden became my rock.
The connection with Natalie began with her first email— “My daughter, born four months after yours….” were words that swept me off my chair. Single motherhood is not always easy and at that time I was feeling a bit inadequate. But with that email, my daughter’s dream had come true—she had a baby sister (even if they were only four months apart). Natalie’s gentle affect, that oozes warmth and kindness, pulled me right in, and she’s been my emotional gatekeeper ever since.
Aly, who came late to the game, was all geared up and ready to play. She was boisterous and direct. She knew things about my kid I had yet to figure out—because she was busy raising the male version of my daughter. Aly quickly became my ray of sunshine. Of all three women, Aly was the one who very easily could have been a childhood best friend.
We’ve been in each other’s lives for over seven years now. When all four of us are together, it’s like we exist in our own little bubble. There’s a closeness I can’t describe. Of course that’s not to say there aren’t times I’d like to pull their hair out or feel like screaming, “Shut the f%@# up!” But what family doesn’t elicit such emotions from time to time? And that’s exactly what we are.
No term has been coined to describe our relationship to one another. They are the mothers of my daughter’s half siblings. They are the extended family I actually love seeing. They are my understanders, my consolers, my specials.
See? There’s no term that quite says it. And the one I’m left with feels decidedly…peculiar. Like we’re members of some polygamous cult. I guess, thanks to the wonders of medical science, we are in a way. And so, across the miles, I send out this heartfelt call.
Happy Mother’s Day, Sister-Wives.