When I was little, I was raised by a single mom and a couple of stepdads. One year my sister and I dropped the ball and didn’t remember Mother’s Day. I remember mom being incredibly upset. After that we never forgot. We weren’t the best, but we never forget. One year we did get her the same snarky card on accident and got in trouble as well. Mother’s Day wasn’t easy. But now I get it. When there aren’t grandparents around or a dad or at least a close relative to take you shopping, much less remind you that this means something to someone, you forget. It just isn’t important when you are a kid. But when you are a mom, it can lead to hurt and disappointment. So this year I made sure to send my mom a big bouquet at work where everyone could see it. Maybe if I do this my next 40 years it will make up for all of the rotten Mother’s Days along the way.
Last year I understood my mom’s Mother’s Day issues. The kids had been with their dad. When they came home and I asked (expectantly), “What day is it?” They stared blankly and replied, “Sunday.” After some coaxing they realized it was indeed Mother’s Day. Henry apologized and said he didn’t know. Middle School doesn’t do those projects any more. Then Claire handed me a card and said her teacher made them make these. The card had “facts” about me. My favorite was My mom is good at sleeping. I still wonder what her teacher thought of me! (And she may never live that one down.)
But, what a difference a year makes… Over the course of this past year I have realized that I need to care for myself and not wait for others to do this. I have learned (as of late) to ask clearly for what I need in a given situation. So, this year I approached things differently. A few weeks ago, I reminded the kids that Mother’s Day was coming. I gave them my amazon password and said they had to work together to come up with a little something meaningful for Mother’s Day. Nothing big. Just something that they thought was just right. They had a ball keeping secrets, shopping, tracking packages and collecting an assortment of gifts. It made me happy just to see them working on something together. I truly didn’t care what gift I was given at this point. It felt good to ask for what I needed and to be responded to in kind.
The beauty in all of this is that last week my ex-mother-in-law asked to take the kids to dinner. Later the kids told me she took them shopping to get me something for Mother’s Day. This was a gift I couldn’t imagine. Someone who is no longer related to me taking the time to notice and helping the kids notice meant the world to me. Pat is no longer obligated to do these things. She has other people in her world to care for and be close to now. However, she took the time to let the kids know this is something of meaning and I am grateful.
I truly believe that the message here is more than just that of Mother’s Day giving. For the last couple of years I felt incredibly alone raising my kids. I felt a bit “lost at sea.” Over the last few months I feel I have found community of friends and friends that have become family. I no longer feel I am doing this alone. And I would like to think the Universe / God / whatever we choose to believe in responded in kind. Today I received the gift of a beautiful bonzai tree, a pot and soil for us to assemble together. I received a funny card. I received a Captain Hook shirt from Once Upon a Time (our favorite show to snuggle up and watch) saying “As You Wish.” I received a book from Claire with stories about me. My favorite is My mom is kind because she helps her friends. I received Mother’s Day cards from Pat (ex-mother-in-law) and Brian (ex-husband). I received numerous texts from friends and yoga students wishing me a happy day. The one that got me teary-eyed was from a mother-daughter yoga student pair: Happy Mother’s Day!!!! May your day be filled with love and many blessings. I am thankful for strong beautiful mothers like you.
I feel the lessons here are multi-fold. First, if you know a single mama and are friends with her and her kids; take them aside and help them do something no matter how small to honor their mother. She is probably working harder than anyone knows. (side note: sometimes dads don’t notice the importance of this as well… help those friends out too) Second, don’t be afraid to ask beforehand for what you need from the people that surround you. They like knowing what to do and how to help. Third, trust that you are surrounded by love, kindness and caring. And in trusting, that is exactly what shows up.
Today I send out blessings to all mothers. Know that you are loved. You are cared for. You are noticed and appreciated. You are raising our future generations of amazing women and men. It may just be that those around you don’t realize it yet. But trust me… they will.