Mom's Days Gone By
Mother’s Day is coming soon again. It will be my fortieth Mother’s Day. Whew! Forty years! Can it be? Thinking back on some of those mother’s days and gifts given, I see a pattern of my life as a single mom.
As a woman who thought she would never have children, I was in for a wonderful surprise. Having read about childless and prayerful Hannah in my Bible study class, I prayed for a child. Then I prayed for another one to go with the first one so she/he wouldn’t be lonely. Two redheaded girls is what I got, Jennifer and Mary. My husband was as stunned as I was, especially as, by the birth of our second daughter, we were living separate lives.
When Jennifer went to kindergarten, I missed her, but I still had Mary. The day I dropped Mary at kindergarten, I almost had a breakdown. The principal recognized my type and blocked me at the door. I cried all the way home and for two days after that.
Mary felt sad for me, so she made a special Mother’s Day card for me with glitter and shiny stickers – in September.
We had celebrated six mother’s days when the divorce came. The year of the divorce, the girls chose a commercial size microwave for Mother’s Day. Their dad, out of guilt, financed the purchase. Fourteen years later, the poor old thing died, and I felt like I’d lost a beloved relative. Twenty mother’s days had gone by. I called the girls to tell them, and we held a long-distance memorial service. So many past meals. So many memories.
As the girls progressed through grade school, Mother’s Days were filled with homemade cards and handmade gifts. When possible, they conned their Dad into financing flowers and candy. Although the flowers are now dead and the candy eaten, the cards and gifts created by hand won my heart and remain, collected in a box under my bed.
The following years were about growing up, for all of us. They as children to adults. Me as a single mother and regressed adult, learning to take care of myself. They were busy years. Junior High. High school. We shared school functions, the excitement of competitive sports, holidays and special occasions, although I had to share the girls with their father more than I liked. The years went so quickly. Mother’s Day gifts became as classy as their after-school jobs allowed – I still have more employee-discount Gap shirts than I can wear.
As the girls graduated, went to college, and took opportunities to travel and live abroad, I saw them and heard from them much less often. I have Mother’s Day cards from Spain, Portugal, England, France and even Africa. I, being a child of the fifties, where families used to stay home and celebrate, I was knocked out by their absences. An email or a phone call became a million-dollar prize. And those Mother’s Day cards from abroad took on great value.
Back home again in the States, my girls moved from our middlewestern home to New York City. With career and marriage responsibilities, they both became busy and were not able to come home often, but now they could afford grown up gifts – a beautiful, expensive duvet cover or a top of the line pan set -- in recent years, airline tickets for me to come and visit them in New York. Clearly, the airline tickets had won “best gift.”
This year, we have new gifts to share. An eight-month-old cutie pie named El and a one week old baby boy named Rowan. For the first time in our mother-daughter history, we three mothers will celebrate Mother’s Day together, the greatest gift of all.