By Miriam Longobardi
Mother’s Day is a holiday that honors and celebrates the joy of motherhood and yet most mothers I know experience all the triumphs and celebrations of our children, the large and the small, every day. As a single mom I get to horde all that to myself, but I am also the sole recipient of all the adolescent emotional tirades, teenage eye-rolls and heavy sighs at my inability to understand or my refusal to rescind a consequence that impacts their social lives. But when we become mothers we can’t just sign on for the hugs and kisses and Hallmark moments and I suppose this is why a day is set aside to honor all of the effort energy that goes into being a mother.
Like my own mother, I still have every hand-painted card and clumsily wrapped homemade gift my children have ever bestowed upon me. I became a single parent when they were fairly young, yet they still found ways to make me the requisite breakfast in bed (even without being allowed to use the oven or stove unsupervised). They would bring me yogurt with fruit and granola or banana and peanut butter and climb into bed to earnestly present their heartfelt little gifts. I felt more blessed by these simple gestures than watching commercials of Hollywood’s version of the all-American traditional two parent family. Our little family is perfect for us the way I hope that others feel their families suit them.
I couldn’t possibly write about Mother’s Day without giving a nod to my own mother. Don’t we all have a greater appreciation for what they experienced once we become mothers ourselves? I see the reflection of me in my daughters and recall what I put my poor mother through growing up and I feel like everything comes full circle. Both my parents are a major part in the raising of my kids with me and continue to shape the kind of mother I am. They are there when I need them, ready to pick up my kids if I’m stuck and will happily take them at the drop of a hat if I need some time to myself or the all-important getaway to save my sanity. Unconditional love and support is what they have always shown me and is a legacy of security I try valiantly to pass on to my own children singlehandedly.
As my children get older, one now in high school and the other in middle school, I’ve become keenly aware that my daily Mother’s Day moments with them–the joyful and the trying– are numbered. Before long–much sooner than I will ever be ready– they will be out on their own and the laughter at our family dinner table as well as the drama of angry door slams will be as much an echo of our former lives as their childhood cookie-crumb kisses and scraped knees. So when I sigh at another mountain of laundry or feel my blood pressure rise as I pass a bedroom strewn with clothes and electronics I try to remind myself that all these things are as much the treasures of motherhood as a great report card or cheering on the sidelines of a winning game.
So whether like me, you are fortunate to have your own mother still with you or are left with her memory, whether your children are needy toddlers that exhaust you as you entertain and chase after them endlessly, or are brooding teenagers that can drive you mad with monosyllabic indifference while refusing to look up from their phones, or are grown and leading their own lives, celebrate this wonderfully chaotic circle of life in the way that best honors your family–and do so a little each day.
Miriam Longobardi is a freelance writer, first grade teacher and single mother of two daughters living in Westchester. A breast cancer survivor, she also volunteers for the American Cancer Society and has completed four marathons. Also, check out her weekly New York Modern Love column at Examiner.com.