Many Moms

Hope all you moms out there had a happy Mother’s Day! I couldn’t be with my mom on the day. But I sent her something I crocheted to say, “I love you. Thank you for being my mom.”

Orchids come out to play on Mother’s Day.

While at the craft store last week (I’m at the craft store at least three times a week), a woman said to me, “Are you a mother? Hope you have a happy Mother’s Day.”

I told her I was not a mom. She looked stunned and said, “Oh I just thought you were since most women are mothers.” I didn’t explain to her that I couldn’t have children. But as I walked to my car, I felt as I had failed somehow, since I couldn’t do something “most women” could do.

Don’t worry. I mentally slapped myself the moment I opened my car door. The act of opening the door was a reminder of how easily I could open the door to depression simply because of what someone said. I’ve done that too many times before.

So instead, I gave thanks for my mother, grandmothers (now deceased), sisters-in-laws, mothers of my sisters-in-law, friends, and the women who have been like mothers to me. Like my mother’s best friend, who lived several houses away on the block I grew up on in Chicago. She was the kind of neighbor who cared enough to correct me when I did something wrong.

Or like my fifth-grade teacher, who worked me harder than any teacher I’d had up till then, because she saw potential in me.

I think of my aunt who emails to see how I’m doing every once in a while. She doesn’t have children either, by the way.

Moms come in so many types besides biological. I think of writer friends who are “manuscript moms.” They helped me raise good manuscripts by beta reading them, giving helpful suggestions for changing them, and by reminding me of what’s good about them. And I have non-writer friends who mother me by inviting me to their homes for dinner or who send tea or other goodies to me in the mail.

But I also can’t forget that holidays like this can be difficult sometimes. One of my grandmothers died right before Mother’s Day years ago. So, my family attended a funeral instead of celebrating Mother’s Day. I can’t approach a Mother’s Day without thinking of her. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve lost a parent or a child or couldn’t have children at all. If so, perhaps Mother’s Day is a struggle for you too. Just know you’re not alone in that.

When you think of Mother’s Day, who are you thankful for? Maybe you don’t have a mom or a significant female in your life, but are thankful for your dad or some other surrogate parent. Feel free to comment below.

These friends (Olive, Barbie, and Babette) have made a pact to spend Mother’s Day together. Though single (and yes, happy in their singleness) and without children (except for those they babysit), they’re surrogate moms and mentors to others.

Photos by L. Marie.

40 thoughts on “Many Moms

  1. Never understood the people who think that way. It’s really high on the awkward, ridiculous questions from strangers list. I’ve noticed there’s a relative to this question, which my wife and I get sometimes. People are baffled at us only having one kid, so they start saying we need to move quickly to have a second one to avoid a large age gap. Apparently, older siblings require a younger one like they’re a pet or something. It feels like a very intrusive and insulting category of questions. As I said, I don’t understand how people can go this route when talking to a stranger.

    • I’m amazed at that too, Charles. It ranks up there on the assumption meter with, “Are you pregnant?” or “When are you getting married?” I don’t understand why anyone would tell someone else to have another child. As if children should be had on demand. 😣 I’ve heard people tell families with all boy children that they need to have a girl and vice versa. Some things just can’t be demanded.

  2. I’m out of the country for Mother’s Day — and here in Portugal Mother’s Day is a week earlier — but I’m glad that my mother could spend the day at one of her grandsons’ graduation from business school. She emailed me a picture, and it looked like a perfect day!

  3. I’m glad that you could turn that insensitive comment into a way to feel grateful for the women in you life who have been caring and compassionate toward you. And YOU are exactly that to so many people. Like your own aunt – you are close with your nephews and nieces. You jump in to care for children that aren’t your own when your friend need help and you’ve taught Sunday school at your church. This year, I had one friend whose mother is dying and an acquaintance whose mother died days before Mother’s Day. I also have friends who had difficult, abusive relationships with their mothers. These experiences made me look at Mother’s Day in a new way. Thank you for your post.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Laura. You’re one of the manuscript moms and friends I mentioned in the post.

      I’m sorry for your friend whose mom is dying and those who have difficult relationships with their mom. I’ve noticed that Mother’s Day is a difficult day for many people. Family-oriented holidays can have that vibe.

      I hope you had a great Mother’s Day. I spent it with my brother’s in-laws. His mother-in-law was sick unfortunately. 😟

  4. As another childless woman, I’ve shared the experience of people assuming that womanhood equates to motherhood. But while I appreciate all the mothers out there who do their best in an increasingly complicated world to bring up well-adjusted, competent adults, I feel that the rest of us contribute just as much to society in different ways. I admit I try to ignore Mother’s Day since my own mother died nine years ago, and I hate the intrusive ads that litter my email telling me about all the wonderful gifts I should shower on my mother. They don’t upset me now, but they did in the year or two after her death. Sometimes these celebrations can cause as much pain as joy. I shall wander off and take my gloomy thoughts elsewhere now… 😉

    • I’m glad you commented, FF, because you brought up some great points. Yes, we do contribute to society. We don’t all have to have to same job or fit the same mold. I used to worry that I didn’t, because I’ve been questioned about why I don’t. I’m finally coming to the realization that I don’t owe anyone an explanation.

      So, please don’t wander off. Your opinion is valued!

  5. When I’m asked if I’m a mother, or the assumption is made that I am, I cheerfully say: “No, I’m child-free” then smile beatifically. You’d be surprised how quickly that stops any further conversation.

  6. One of my favorite quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt:
    No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

    We can choose NOT to be offended, upset, discouraged, etc., by the careless (or callous) remarks of strangers in the night.

    Glad you turned your thoughts to the bright side.

  7. Oh boy, you hit a hot button with me. I don’t even know where to begin, or if I should comment at all, but of course, being me, I must say something. If that woman thought all women were mothers, then why did she even ask? I had a couple of cashiers wish me a happy mother’s day without asking me. I thanked them and wished the same to them.

    You may know from my blog that I was unable to have children as well. I’d have to write a few pages to say all my thoughts and feelings about this holiday for people like us, but it’s something that few understand. I will leave it at that.

    I know you grew up in Chicago, but didn’t know your mom doesn’t live here anymore.

    Thanks for sharing this with people, L. It’s good for others to read and maybe realize to be sensitive to those around them. All of us women nurture in some capacity.

    • Hi, Lori. Yes, my parents live in the Houston area. They like warm weather. 😀

      I knew you and others who commented would understand. As my aunt commented, we don’t owe anyone an explanation (though some people seem to feel that we do for some reason).

      You’re so right! We nurture in some capacity!

  8. I am the aunt Linda was talking that email her. As she said, I have never had any children. I used to feel depressed on Mother’s day because of it. Over the years, I came to realize that if God wanted me to have children, He would have given me some. I am now 76 years old and have lived a very fruitful life in spite of not having children.
    I have helped to nurtured many on my sister and brother’s children down through the years.
    I have also taught many children in my Sunday school classes, whom I have nurtured with the Word of God. I have no regrets.
    I owe no one any explanation as to why I don’t have children, and neither do you Linda!
    Love you.

    • Thank you, Aunt Gladys! I’m so glad you commented. Love you too! Thank you for your advice! You’re right. I don’t owe anyone an explanation! I have followed in your footsteps of nurturing the children of others!

  9. Huge hug to you – very well put post, and I’ll add this:
    You ‘mother others’, L.Marie…you just may not realize it. (I feel it from you and I’m way older than you!)
    ps-I spit on the names of those who act so boarishly…I’m Italian so I can say this!

  10. While I am a mother, I hope I can empathize with those who are not. One of my daughters and her husband do not and will not have children. She is the best auntie, friend, daughter – woman – I know. I am often surprised, and, if I am truthful, angry at those who feel they need to tell me the what and why and so forth.

    When I think of Mother’s Day, I am eternally grateful for own Ma, missing her but appreciative of the time we had. I think of all of the woman in my life, from my Greek grandmother, to her sister, who considered us her grands as she didn’t have any. She’s the one who had a heart attack and died going to get her hair done for my bridal shower – but, dead as she was, I had a present to open from her and still use. I think of my aunts and aunts-in-law, my Godmother and Mrs. Cannella, a friend’s mom who would fight dragons to save me. They all had a remarkable presence in my life. I think of my teachers and I think of my friends. As others have said, all nurture.
    Thanks for this post, L. Marie.

  11. This exactly: “Moms come in so many types besides biological.” That kind of ignorance from a stranger really rubs me the wrong way. If it was me, probably after her stunned comment about “most women,” I probably would have responded, “well, I ain’t most women!” You did right by letting it go and then writing a beautiful blog post 🙂

  12. That woman was thoughtless. In 2016, 30.8% of 30 to34-year old American women were childless. It’s not that uncommon. I’m glad you mentally slapped yourself when you reached your car. Wasn’t there someone who said you can have it all? If so, it’s not true. None of us can have it all. Which doesn’t mean we can’t all have a full life.

    • I remember a perfume commercial which boldly stated, “I can bring home the bacon” etc., which implied that we can have it all. I agree with you! We can have a full life with what we have!

  13. I never make assumptions about other women and certainly would never ask someone why they don’t have children. My aunts, my sister and good friends don’t have children, but my sister is really close to my daughter and her other niece. A lovely friend and her husband practically brought up their four God children and see a lot more of them now they’re adults than most natural parents! Men aren’t defined by children, nor should we be. The actual being a parent looking after children is only one part of your life, they leave home and you are an individual again with a different sort of life.

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