Mother’s Day. Sigh. It’s a bad Mother (shut yo mouth).
Here’s what I think. Mothers for the most part, do the work and get little glory. We are the most and least important in every thing. We cannot be lived with or lived without. And we do not realize that last fact, until sadly, it is too late.
We get one day to be celebrated, and the commercials promoting the holiday make me want to hyperventilate they are so sad.
It’s a no-win situation. No one loses, but you don’t really win here either.
I’m not down on motherhood. No. Being a mother is the single most important part of me.
If I had to choose one person to be with, forever, it would be my daughter. No question.
Motherhood brings me the greatest joy and pride that could ever be imagined. Mountains are moved every time I see a change in my daughter. Every time she smiles, or dances when she’s feeling silly. Every time she tells me a joke, even if it’s not funny. Every time I see her turn a little bit more into the person she is going to be.
It is humbling.
It is also a lot of work.
It doesn’t matter if you’re married, divorced, husband deployed or don’t even have a partner.
Motherhood is hard. It’s important. It’s remarkable.
I get about three or four days off a month. That’s more than most. That said, I work 24 hours a day, the other 26-27 days a month.
It gives me some perspective.
I don’t have time to worry or get caught up. I have a schedule, and I have to be on it.
I don’t even like schedules, but it’s necessary in order to fulfill my work order.
What else works? Well, I surround myself with women who are successful, happy and supportive.
Regardless of if they are mothers or not. I need people to hold me up, when I cannot accomplish that on my own. I need to be led down the right path sometimes. I need to be distracted sometimes and I need to do the same for them.
These women are a bank of “good” that I can deposit and withdrawal from when necessary.
I have fantastic role models with my own mother and stepmother. Different in their approach, but unconditional in their nature. I try to emulate them as much as possible.
I have a bonus mom/sister/friend who taught me everything from how to figure out where an address was on a map to how to drive. My friend Laura mothered me, when I needed it and has been a significant role model for me my entire life. Now she is working on Zoe, and it reaffirms my love and admiration for her daily.
My father and stepfather are stand-up men, who have supported my mother and stepmother in their parenting journeys. They are formidable.
Co-parenting is a complicated thing and I have a fairly good situation where that is concerned. Parenting together is better. These men help show me the way.
These last five years of going at it as a single mom have taught me a few things.
1. Pick your battles. Not everything is worth an uproar. Somethings really are – choose wisely.
2. Be honest. With yourself and with your kid. I’m not saying you have to tell the kid the whole truth and nothing but, however authentic messaging, teaches exponentially. Sometimes you’re having a hard time. It’s ok to say “Hey, child, I need a few minutes” rather than blow up because your frustrated with something else.
3. Focus on what you want. You will get more of it. This is hard. We want to correct (or at least I do) all the time. Be specific. Set expectations. This will make you happier and your kid more able to succeed in the future.
4. Step away some times. Let them figure their stuff out. Show them how to make good decisions and then let them make them.
5. Participate. Be active with your kid, with your kid’s school, with your kid’s sports team – whatever. It brings you closer to the kid and the other parents/adults who are around your kid. Being involved is good parenting, good modeling and good for your community. You cannot complain unless you participate. Then you can complain all you want.
6. Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s good to goof off every once in a while. Rock out with the windows up. Wear crazy headbands with antennae out to lunch. Honk every time you see a pedestrian and wave. Being kooky helps make the times when you have to be serious, less boring. More manageable.
7. Realize you cannot do it alone, and you wouldn’t want to. Staff it out when you need to. Call on friends, family, domestic help or even Disney Cruises (childcare all day/night, hello!) when you need to.
8. You’re not going to do everything right, and that’s OK. That’s more than OK, it’s wonderful. Don’t be afraid to eff up. That’s part of the process.
So mother’s out there who work hard in or out of the house, or BOTH, know that you are understood and appreciated this Mother’s Day. You are praised by your sisterhood of women who are dedicated to your success (and survival). We know what it means to start your day at 6am and end it in a heap of exhaustion at 11pm. We also know what it feels like when your kid comes home with a medal from the science fair or when she leaves you notes like this one.
We salute you. I salute you.
I’d also like to shoutout to my girlfriends who are motherless daughters. I do not know what this feels like. I do know that Mother’s Day is difficult for you. I wish that I could help you with that and make it less painful. I send you big hugs and wonderful memories of your mothers. Some of which, I remember so fondly, myself.