I had an odd relationship with Mother’s Day for many years after becoming a mom more than 20 years ago. While the responsibilities of being a mother have happily consumed my existence from the start, it took me a long time to feel like the celebration of Mother’s Day encompassed “someone like me.”
I’m a single mom.
Almost always have been. My kids have never known anything different.
And for the most part, I’ve owned it, enjoyed it.
Except for one flower-filled day each May. Mother’s Day brought into focus what I wasn’t. I wasn’t a wife. I wasn’t wanted or celebrated by my kids’ father. I wasn’t half of a traditional family. So what was I?
Incomplete. Less than other mothers.
When Mother’s Day was created, they didn’t mean someone like me.
I don’t remember exactly when this turned around for me, but for the past several years, I’ve loved Mother’s Day. The boys drop everything for me and adventure is our priority. They’ve never had a dad who takes them shopping to pick out a special, top-secret gift or flowers, but they celebrate me on their own, in their own way.
It works. It’s us. It’s good stuff.
This year, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mother’s Day.
Maybe it’s because I’ve developed a good relationship with the holiday that I’m able to look at other people’s relationships with Mother’s Day. If you think about it, this is not a simple holiday. In many situations, this holiday reminds us of what we aren’t or what we no longer have. Not all mothers are still with us. Some mothers have outlived their children. Some women are mothers at heart who couldn’t produce children. Not all mothers are biological. Some mothers step in and assume responsibility where biological mothers stepped out. Some mothers married into motherhood.
This isn’t meant to be a sad, depressing or critical. I’ve just realized how important it is for all of us to be very gentle with the way we approach this highly emotional holiday. While it is a joyful occasion for some, it can be awfully bittersweet for others.
If you are able to celebrate your Mom in the traditional sense, thanks be to God. Enjoy. Create memories. Savor this amazing blessing. If Hallmark doesn’t have a card to adequately describe your Mother’s Day, may you find comfort, gratitude, and peace. Celebrate your strength. Honor the uniqueness that is your life. Embrace your tribe in whatever form it currently takes.
All photos are credited to Vivian Maier, the most profound street photographer ever. Link to her site here.