Sex and the City
star Kim Cattrall does not like the word "childfree," and neither do we.
"It sounds like you're less because you haven't had a child," she has said
. "There is a way to become a mother in this day and age that doesn't include your name on the child's birth certificate." With Mother's Day here again, we may be focusing our gratitude on moms in the traditional sense, and that's lovely. But what's also worth celebrating is the love, care, mentorship, guidance, and inspiration that other women bring to our lives.
This isn't to say that everyone who identifies as female must be "nurturing," regardless of whether or not she has kids of her own, or that emulating the qualities typically associated with motherhood makes anyone more of a "woman" than anyone else. Rather, we're recognizing that "a mother's love" is far from the only kind of love a woman can give to a young person learning how to move through the world. In the words of Joy Bryant in Lenny Letter
, "I've got plenty of love to give, and plenty of plans to help make the world a better place through something other than my offspring."
Ahead, we've gathered 10 poignant stories about people who may not be biological moms but have forever shaped lives for the better.