She wrote them all out: 42 reasons that she loved me, a gift for my 42nd birthday. Each reason was handwritten on a separate notecard. “When I tell you drama, you tell me the truth about what you think.” “You are okay with random Target runs.” “You pretend to not know when we do things like this.” Some funny, some sweet – the cards collectively made me cry.
The one that most made me pause read “You prove being a single mother is not only possible, but amazing. (You raise/treat/encourage us so well).” She has never referred to me as a single mother before. It has never come up that she sees my parenting role as different from a married mother.
I do not know why discomfort came up for me in looking at this for the first time. Was this good or bad? Am I whole or half? Or two wholes? What am I? What does she see? Does she see having a single mom as a disadvantage? Does she feel a difference beyond having divorced parents, but in also having a single mom?
She had never directly acknowledged that she knows it is harder to parent without a co-parent in the same house, save for one time stating it wasn’t fair that I had to always do all of the driving when they were with me and their dad had a wife and step-son to do driving for him. Beyond what seemed like trivial transportation the big picture had not presented itself this way.
I forced myself to focus on the other words. Whatever I was, she thought I was not only, but an underscored amazing. She told me I was raising them, treating them and encouraging them well. Whatever my role, my mom role – whether single or married – was to do this. The big picture came clearly into focus for me for the first time. It makes no difference: single or married; one child or ten; rich or poor. The job of parenting is the same. It is universal. To love, teach and grow your children.
“You taught me how to stand up for myself.” “Even though it’s kind of annoying, you tell me when I stink (LOL).” And, on the last notecard, the single statement that meant the most to me about my motherhood, “You are my mom, and accept me for me! I love you.”