I’ve been wrestling with what to write about Mother’s Day all week. This will be my first true Mother’s Day. (Although, we did celebrate it last year, as I was about two weeks away from giving birth. It was my almost-Mother’s Day.) My baby is nearly a year old and I feel like the transitional phase of becoming a mom is over. I’m a mom. Or, as my daughter calls me MAAaaaaMmmma. Or, sometimes I’m Daddy. Whatever. It’s all good.
I am looking forward to my first real Mother’s Day, even though my baby isn’t really cognizant of it. I feel like we’ve gotten to know each other so well this past year. And the more she grows and changes, somehow the more I feel like a mom. And as much as I adore my husband and I know that fatherhood is absolutely magical for him, it’s different for moms. I already knew my daughter before she was born. We’ve shared the same space. I grew her inside me! There’s nothing as close as that.
But there’s something about the parent holidays that has always been problematic for me. Maybe it’s because I am the child of divorced parents. Maybe it’s because I was estranged from my father for nearly 10 years. Maybe it’s because I had to face the difficult reality that not having my mother in my life now is what will work best for both of us. And I know I’m not alone. There are so many of us “broken home” kids out there. We’re all grown up, but those memories last forever.
Just when the pity party gets going, however, I am reminded of all my friends and family who don’t have their mothers (or fathers) here anymore. My best friend lost his mother to cancer when he was just a kid. My cousin, only a few years older than me, died of a rare cancer a couple years ago. She was my aunt’s only child and she left behind a then-15-month-old baby who will never know his mother. These stories always give me a lump in my throat. Maybe now more than ever. And these stories make my little broken-home blues seem cheap and self-centered.
And what about all the other moms that don’t get a Hallmark card out there? The gay fathers who offer every bit of mothering a woman does. The grandmothers raising their grandchildren. The single-moms who face all the parenting stuff alone and can never tag someone else in to help out. (I honestly DO NOT KNOW how you singletons do it!) The big brothers and big sisters who sometimes have to step in because the “real” moms are so wasted or out of control or just not there. And certainly, I cannot forget all the would-be mothers who, for whatever reason, cannot have kids of their own and it kills them a little inside. Last, but not least, I want to acknowledge the women out there who have no desire to be a mother. Because that’s okay, too.
There are so many acts of mothering out there. There are so many ways to mother. And I’m afraid the deluge of perfume and jewelry ads just don’t measure up to reality. And if the reality or motherhood is full of love — in whatever form that takes — it’s almost a crime to dismiss it.
So, this post is dedicated to all the mamas. On the days that are shitty. On the days when you are scared. For the times when the mantel of motherhood feels too heavy to bear. And for the times when you just need to laugh and pray that you will not fuck up this kid (too much). And for all the love. So much love and joy that sometimes you think your heart will burst! This one’s for the moms in whatever form they live!