Our Story Begins:
Happy Mother’s Day, Dad!
While I know this comes a couple weeks after Mother’s Day, the last thing I wanted to do was take attention away from all the amazing moms out there who read my column and the Good Enough Mother site. Being a mom must be one of the most amazing, touching, and heartening things – I can only imagine.
But Mother’s Day is an awkward day in my house.
Schools, television episodes, news coverage, all surround us with the celebration of being a mom. I don’t pretend we should dim that celebration, not ever. However, when you’ve lost your mom, what do you do?
My wife, mother to my four children, passed away two years ago. I cannot begin to understand what it is for my children at this point to lose their mother. I can empathize, but I cannot tell them I understand any more than they can understand my losing the woman I loved. They don’t have a mom and they have to move on telling our family’s story with the understanding that their dad has to try and fill that gap.
So as the one day a year that celebrates their mom nears, the schools, room mothers and the world don’t know what to do. “Make a card” or “make a present” or “write a poem” is the norm. Elementary schools around the country tell kids to hold a celebration of the woman who carried them for roughly 280 days.
“Mother’s Day Tea” arrived and the room moms and teachers informed the kids that if their moms weren’t there, they could go to the Extended Day room and watch a movie. Meanwhile, the moms who were able to come, had a “high tea” and lots of sugary treats and the like. (Dads, meanwhile, get to eat stale doughnuts during the book fair in “Doughnuts For Dad” and get lobbied to buy merchandise. Go figure.)
My kids were lucky. Hannah, my middle daughter, has a friend whose mom “adopted” them so that all three could go to the tea. She felt as I do: no kid should be singled out, even if they get to watch a movie, while their friends get to have plates of food and treats.
Projects for Mother’s Day abound. Where I try to let my kids treat that Sunday in May as any other Sunday, we cannot. Church has a celebration of mom; the school has projects that the kids create for mom; and my kids looked lost and abandoned as they quietly went to their teachers and asked, “What do we do if we don’t have a mom anymore?”
Sure. The simple answer is to make something for Grandma or their aunt, and my boys, Noah and Sam, did that.
Hannah, my middle, did something that touched my heart. Mother’s Day morning arrived, like every other morning, and I made pancakes and poured the kids’ orange juice into the cups on the table. Hannah came up to me and quietly, meekly sidled up and tried to tell me something. Even at thirteen, towering at five foot eight inches, she still seems the tiny little girl with the knotted up hair and she says “I have something for you, Dad.”
I looked up and asked why, and she simply said, “because I wanted to.”
In class her fellow students were told to make a card for their mom.
Hannah made one for me.
“I know this is kind of weird,” she wrote in a colorful script on construction paper, “…but HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, DAD!”
“You do all this stuff for us anyway, you deserve a Mother’s Day card,” Hannah informed me.
I couldn’t have been happier. Being mom, you see, isn’t just carrying the child inside you. It’s not just a day. I don’t pretend to be their mother, but on days when they need mothering, it seems Hannah has told me that I got it right.
Now, I just can’t wait to see how she tops this for Father’s Day.
What about you? Did you get to see what your kids really thought of Mother’s Day? Was it a celebration, touched by love and understanding? What do you tell your kids when those days come around?
Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.