We don't make a huge, big deal about Mother's Day around here--no Sunday brunch at a fancy restaurant, no profusions of flowers. Usually Mother's Day consists of me taking a day off from chores and the boys being extra sweet. The Man makes dinner, the boys give me some presents, and it's all good.
Yesterday was different, because I had signed up to help with Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) at church. IHN is a program that helps homeless family transition into jobs and housing. These families aren't chronically homeless--typically, the head of the family (almost always a single mother) has been laid off from her job or has recently moved into the area and hasn't been able to find a job. She has skills, she has the will, she's just had some bad luck. IHN helps by offering temporary housing in churches and synagogues with sleeping facilities and providing meals, transportation and job training.
My co-host at last night's dinner was Amie, a woman who attends our IHN partner church and had her 5 year-old daughter Jane with her. Amie, like the women we would be hosting that evening, is a single mom. She has a good job and good support systems in place, but even so, single parenting isn't easy under the best of circumstances, and she felt a strong connection to the moms we ate with last night.
It felt good to take care of moms who don't get a lot of love. Amie, bless her heart, brought each of the three mothers big, sparkly Mother's Day cards and gift bags. We watched the kids, served up ham and mac and cheese and banana pudding, and did the dishes. The moms, who have been traveling together from church to church for several weeks now and have bonded, sat back and relaxed or took naps.
When Amie and I were cleaning up, we talked about how for so many mothers, Mother's Day isn't a happy occasion. This led to a conversation about families in commercials, especially around the holidays. For a single parent, it's painful to watch image after image of traditional families gathering together. But what surprised Amie is when I said I thought those commercials were painful for a lot of people, just not single mothers. Our families, being human, are flawed. We all think we're doing this parenting thing wrong--and then sure enough, there's that perfect TV family proving our point.
Our discussion made me think that maybe what mothers should do on Mother's Day is gather with other mothers and tell our stories. Talk about the good stuff and the bad stuff. No bragging, just truth-telling. We can drink champagne and wear tee shirts that say "Every Day is Mother's Day" and give each other flowers. We can take care of each other, like good mothers do.
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