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May 06, 2010

Do a Mom a Favor

Momprint_rdax_65 Mother's Day. The day we love to hate. It's a creation of the greeting card companies. (.) It's hyped up by the floral industry. And "family" restaurants. And purveyors of fine chocolate and jewelry. And EVERY day should be Mother's Day. Bah humbug.

But if we're honest with ourselves, most of us moms have to admit that we LIKE it. We like having one day when we can kick back and legitimately expect the dad to do all the work. We like getting the carefully made scrawlings from school. We like a little extra attention. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Before my kids were born, I hated Mother's Day with a passion. I wasn't pregnant, and I wasn't going to be pregnant. The Hallmark holiday tore me apart. Then we adopted our darling boys and Mother's Day became a happy day, a day to celebrate not just myself, but the wonder of my family. 

After my husband died, Mother's Day once again became a kick in the gut -- and I wasn't expecting that. The day that was supposed to be all about ME wasn't. It became another day to confront the pain of losing the man who had chosen me to be the mother of his children. It became another day to look at my kids and realize how much they had lost. And, yes, it became another day to be mad at the universe that he wasn't here doing the things he was supposed to do for ME: Take me out to dinner, buy me flowers, take the kids shopping for little tokens and nudge them to make cards. For me.

Mother's Day may have become a Hallmark holiday, but it still packs a real wallop for those of us who aren't sharing the job of parenting with our chosen partner.  This is my sixth Mother's Day as an only parent, so the pain of the day is mostly gone. I expect a twinge of sadness when I look at the boys, but it's been a few years since the day triggered a full-blown grief storm. I'm living near my own mother now, so the boys and I will take her out to dinner. She may or may not think of reciprocating my toast to her motherhood. It's okay. I won't get flowers. I won't get chocolate. I won't get a little trinket. I will have to clean the kitchen and make the beds and do the laundry. It's all okay.

But ... if you know a woman who is parenting alone, do her a favor.

Help her young kids make her a card. Encourage her older kids to clean their rooms. Offer to take the children shopping for a bouquet of flowers or a little present. Give her a certificate to one of those family restaurants so she doesn't have to cook and clean the kitchen.  Do something -- anything -- to let her know that she matters, that someone appreciates all that she does for her kids. Take the sting off of her doing it all alone. Even for a day.

This is an original post for 50-Something Moms by Alicia, who chronicles her life as a widow and mother at Forever Changed.