The girls and I got in late last night after a week-long trip. By morning they had both made their way into my bed. As soon as Beau opened her eyes she softly murmured, “Happy Mother’s Day.” Ruby followed suit, and nuzzled her face into my neck. All of us, a bit exhausted from our vacation, laid there for a while together – a warm tangle of arms, legs, and blankets.
Since we’d been away all week, they would soon be going to spend the day with their dad, despite it being Mother’s Day. I really felt okay with that, having been with them 24-7 for the past week. Some alone time would be good, I thought. Mother’s Day is just a day.
Just another Hallmark-inspired holiday.
Their dad came to pick them up, and he asked the girls if they had wished me a Happy Mother’s Day (a polite gesture, of course). He did not offer up the sentiment himself. I wasn’t really sure why that bothered me, after all I’m not his mother. I’m not even his wife, anymore.
Thinking about it some more, I realized why this omission struck a chord. It’s because as a single parent, there’s no one (with an adult perspective) who sees all that you put into being a good parent.
There isn’t anyone there with you through the good, the bad, and the ugly. You miss having someone to witness you at your best and at your worst; someone who can therefore authentically and lovingly say, “You are a good mother.” (Or father)
Best case scenario – you have a partner who feels, without a doubt, that their children’s lives have been made richer for having you as a parent.
I thought about my mother, and how she has had just that sort of partner with her for every one of her Mother’s Days, until this one. He witnessed all that she put into being a good mother (and grandmother) – through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Therefore he could authentically and lovingly say, “You are a good mother.”
“Without a doubt, my life is richer for having you as the mother of our children.”
Of course, I have no idea if he said those exact words, but I can tell you there’s no doubt in my mind he felt that way. Her children and grandchildren feel that way too.
Our lives have been made richer for having her as a mother and grandmother.
And you know what, I know my children feel that way about me too. I know I am a good mother. So, why the need for third-party validation? It all comes back to the idea of being seen, doesn’t it?
It strikes me that losing a partner is not only about missing that person, but…
It’s also this –
No one is there witnessing you, in all of the intimate and authentic ways that a loving partner could.
Though, as I write this, the truth emerges (as it often does) –
The children are witnessing you. They see you as you are.
Yes, they do.
Mom, we see you, and we adore you.