This Mother’s Day, I’m thinking of my mother. She was a single mom for most of my childhood, but I didn’t really get what that meant until I became a mother myself. I still can’t really know, since I’ve had an amazing partner-in-crime for the duration of this parenting thing. But I do know how tired I am after 15-hour days alone with the kids. I know how stressed I am about money. I know how much I crave adult contact after my long days. I know how I am always questioning myself: Have I done enough for the kids? Have I listened well enough? Have I been present with them?
I can only imagine how she did it. Like any kid, I complained about her. I wanted more attention. I criticized her for napping after work. I wished we lived in houses instead of apartments. I wanted that illusive cookie-cutter mom-and-dad white picket fence life.
But she always did the best that she could with what she had. And I realize now—as I get older, and become more and more myself—just how much she taught me, how much of her spirit is inside of me.
She taught me to follow my gut in all aspects of my life. She taught me that art and self-expression were more important than money and status. She taught me that cuddles and affection fix everything. She taught me kindness for all beings. She taught me to want peace for this world, to want it with all my heart. She taught me to question authority. She taught me that each act of kindness is a little seed that can grow a better world.
I recently published two pieces about her at The Mid (it’s a great new publication—you should check it out!). In This is It: I’m a Grown-Up, I reflect on turning 37, which feels somehow more grown-up than before. I remember my own mother at this age, and I can’t believe I am here now, where she was then. I also wrote a tribute piece to her for Mother’s Day: Why I’m So Grateful to My Mother.
I am also really proud to share with you a louder, angrier, more gritty piece I wrote for Role Reboot: It’s Mother’s Day, and I’m Pissed. I know it’s not your usual Mother’s Day fare, but it comes from my heart. I want so much more for mothers in our country. I really do. It’s not acceptable that millions of mothers and children go to sleep hungry each night. It’s not acceptable that we don’t have paid maternity leave. It’s not acceptable that even middle-class families are barely scraping by. It’s not acceptable that the number of mothers dying during childbirth has increased over the past decade.
In a way, this piece is also a tribute to my mom, who taught me from the very beginning that there was a world outside my little bubble—that there were people who struggled, that were was inequality, that we lived in a very imperfect world. She taught me to speak up about it, to write, to shout.
So Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. And thank you. For everything.