Ahhh Mother’s Day. The Hallmark holiday that was created by Anna Jarvis in the early 1900s. It became an official holiday in 1912 and ironically Miss Jarvis later fought against its commercialization and tried to get it removed from the calendar. I tend to agree with Miss Jarvis.
This year I will spend my holiday cooking for my mom and grandmother. I realize I am incredibly blessed to have both my mom and my grandmother who are still alive. My grandmother is 100 years old meaning she was around for those earliest of official Mother’s Days. I love to bake and this day allows me to cook for people I love and who have spent a lifetime praying for me. There is no substitute for this legacy.
I personally have always had a love/hate relationship with the day. I always wanted to be a mom and honestly feel incredibly blessed to have these three boys of mine but let’s be real here – if you do not have a husband or partner who is orchestrating the gifts and breakfast in bed and your kids are still young, as a single parent, it just becomes another day of cooking and cleaning and feeling some sort of way about the smiling photos on FaceBook. Thank you to all the dads out there that orchestrate this (and honestly I would feel a little awkward if any of this was for me because I am not very good at letting people do things for me) but truthfully for a lot of women Mother’s Day can be incredibly painful.
I have a hard time going to church on Mother’s Day (and I am in the process of writing a whole other post on my relationship with church, so stay tuned for that) When the pastor asks all the Mothers to stand, moms new and old and in between all stand up. But in that process I can’t help but think of the women who aren’t standing. Because among this crowd are women who have lost their mothers, women who cannot have biological children, women who are in the process of adopting, women who have aborted children, women who have lost adult children, women who don’t have children of their own but have been more of a mother than some bio moms, women who are aunties and fill a role that no one else can. Do I stand if I just lost a baby? Do I stand if my adoption just fell through? Do I stand if my kids aren’t talking to me? Do I stand if I am a foster mom with no kids in my home? What if I am a step-mom? What if I (gasp) chose not to have kids? I remember that awkward feeling as a 30+ year old woman having to sit and wonder what people were thinking about me. Wanting to stand up and say “I want to be a mom, does that count?” Virtual hugs to all of you who sit, for whatever reason. Look for the women whose pain is hidden behind a smile. Hey women. We see you.
Motherhood clearly has been a ride these past couple of years to put it lightly. I know for my little guys (who aren’t that little any more) Mother’s Day probably brings up all kinds of emotions. The youngest and I were in a conversation the other day about a story from when he first moved in and why he didn’t want to do something. His response to me was, “I was scared and that was before I trusted you” and he went on to tell me that he thought I would be like all the other “moms”. I would give up on him, I would be mean and for sure I would “give him back” to the group home because he had been told he was unlovable and unadoptable. This same week I had a conversation with a teacher about a project he had not done. (And to be real there are a lot of projects he has not done. Again, see post on Middle School Stinks.) The project was about family wherein he was to choose 5 family photos and write a story about each photo. He told me he couldn’t do it because he doesn’t have any photos of his family. He is struggling right now with loving me and what that means for his bio family- no matter how traumatic those early years were. At 13, he is figuring out who he is and how he fits into a world that is not quite cookie cutter for him. He is struggling with what being bi-racial means. “Mom I want to be white, it just seems easier”. More on that for another post but for now back to the project. I assume kids came in with photos of smiling families and the obligatory baby pictures. Guess what? We don’t have baby pictures. Not one. Not one photo from before either of them were 9. What I would give for just one photo so as they grow up we can process that family is much bigger than how it is often defined. One photo of them learning to walk, of them on their first day of kindergarten, of their three half-brothers that we don’t have contact with. One photo of them with their bio mom or dad. Maybe it would bring up too much trauma right now but maybe it would be a link to the thread of their story. Because I am not their only momma and we are not their only family.
So here’s to the “mommas”. Here is to the single moms who do this every single day without respite. Here is to the married moms whose husband or partner isn’t supportive and maybe even forget it was Mother’s Day. Here is to the virtual moms…we NEED you, we need your humor and your time and your support. Here is to the grandmothers who have been on their knees praying for us for years. Here is to the aunties who bring indescribable joy and laughter and perspective to our lives. Here is to the momma whose last kid just left for college. Here is to you who have a child in prison, whose mother is dying, whose child is serving overseas. Here is to you who aborted babies, who gave up your kids for adoption, who lost your kids to the system, who have had a miscarriage or multiple miscarriages, who have children that are off the path, who have lost an only child, who have lost children to cancer or to accidents or to drug overdoses, who are unable to have biological kids. Your worth is not in your status on this day. No matter what Hallmark says. We see you.