Mother's Day as a Bereaved Mother, Single Mother, Physically Separated From My Own Mother, Single Woman.
Jaclyn Ann Mahoney
Jaclyn is a founder of Daisy C.H.A.I.N. and its Executive Director
It sure doesn’t sound glorious, but it is. Not every moment of every day, by any means, but on the whole I am so blessed. I don’t think any human, let alone any woman, spends everyday feeling gloriously inspired by all their blessings. Sometimes I don’t believe other people are imperfect but most of the time I know it to be true. And this makes recognizing my own blessings easier to see.
Being single on Mother’s Day comes with its own freedom. Freedom from the expectations, freedom from the disappointment of expectations unmet, freedom from looking to a partner to determine my self-worth with flowers and jewelry and cards. This would be nice, and for those who have ever received any of these things I hope they bask in the glory of being honored with these beautiful gestures. Maybe someday I will too. But for me, the past 3 Mother’s Days as a single woman have offered me a new perspective that is less self-centered than its predecessors when I (im)patiently waited to be showered in gifts I may or may not have deserved.
my wish is the same as the women who wrote the Mother’s Day proclamation: it is a wish for peace.
Instead, I get to learn about the history of Mother’s Day and our foremothers’ dreams of peace. I get to see my amazing daughters’ soft skin and gorgeous smiles and grumpy protestations of sunlight and begging for fast food breakfast toys and know in my gut that THIS is what mothering is for me, day in and day out. And that’s ok. And it’s also ok for me to get angry that there was no breakfast in bed or even a card waiting for me when I woke up. They are just little girls and who am I to rest my self-worth on whether or not they have been trained to meet societal expectations for the second Sunday in May. I get cards and pictures and sweet gestures from them throughout the year. They are what makes the grunts, and fighting, and painful truths and falsehoods they periodically shout out bearable.
Being a bereaved mother on Mother’s Day means that I don’t know what to expect on Mother’s Day.
I saw a poll circulating on social media about what moms really want for Mother’s Day. Top answers were 1) the day off of parenting and 2) sleep. Hah! It’s nice that in 2015 it is socially acceptable to be honest. Being a single mother on Mother’s Day means that the day off from parenting doesn’t exist. And, really, I am not sure that it exists for any parent since we are still responsible for our children’s well-being whether or not they are in our direct care. At anytime we could get a phone call that requires us to be at our child’s side. I have had offers of this. As a single mother this does not sound like the treat I would have thought it to be. In fact, unlike the majority of mothers answering that social media poll, a day off from parenting sounds pretty terrifying, especially my treasured weekend time. This is not because I am a saint who adores every moment with my children, this is because all the chores and downtime we miss while doing the weekday balancing act would be pushed off yet another day. Most days this is ok. The random dirty sock and stack of unprocessed papers is an outward reminder that I am human and literally doing the impossible. It is not possible to meet each child’s needs, be a good employee, friend, family member, citizen, and manage a household all at the same time (and don’t forget self-care!). But weekends are the days that managing the house and waking to my babies cute faces (or screams and grunts) instead of the cell phone alarm provide the order to my day. These are treasured moments.
Being a bereaved mother on Mother’s Day means that I don’t know what to expect on Mother’s Day. Sometimes it may be only my loss that I can see. Sometimes the loss illuminates the blessings. It means that my Mother’s Day will never be perfect. There will always be something, someone, missing. In many ways this makes the day easier. In some ways it brings challenges. She is in my heart and I feel her loss everyday. So in many ways, Mother’s Day is just another day.
No one asked me what I want for Mother’s Day. But if they did I would tell them I want enough patience to be the mom my kids deserve and for my children and I to treat each other and ourselves with the respect and love we each deserve
My own mother and sisters and aunts and Nana are over 800 miles away. Living where I do makes being a single mother slightly less challenging since the cost of living is remarkably less than where I come from. Being physically away from my own mother on Mother’s Day is one of the hardest parts of today for me. She understands me in ways that I don’t believe others do. And celebrating her takes the focus off me, which is usually a good idea. Not to mention adult interaction is always a bonus.
So Friday my youngest and I made an early Mother’s Day/late birthday cake for me, per her request. And yesterday we picked fresh flowers to place on the table. I love waking up to the scent of roses. Today we will do our chores, play, and visit the local pizza parlor that is treating moms to free heart shaped pizza while the kids play in the play structure. That’s my kind of day. No one asked me what I want for Mother’s Day. But if they did I would tell them I want enough patience to be the mom my kids deserve and for my children and I to treat each other and ourselves with the respect and love we each deserve. In this way, my wish is the same as the women who wrote the Mother’s Day proclamation: it is a wish for peace.