Mother’s Day is complicated.

Mother’s Day is filled with conflicting emotions for a lot of us.  I’m incredibly lucky that I have a mother who I adore.  I’m enormously thankful that after lots of miscarriages and hundreds of injections I ended up with a small miracle in my daughter.  I’m one of the lucky ones.  But here’s the thing…Mother’s Day isn’t just about being mom or having a mom.  It’s also about celebrating the mother figures that come into your life.  And they do come in strange and wonderful ways that we don’t always recognize.

Like my little sister who helps me with work and always has my back because she’s naturally nurturing.  Or my friend Maile who literally carried me to the hospital last month and stayed with me the entire time, watching over me even when I was passing out and ridiculous.  Or my friends who check in with me, and who don’t get mad when I don’t always answer back because they love me enough to forgive me before even getting upset.  Or my daughter when she reminds me to take my medicine or my husband when he tells me to go to sleep and that everything will be okay, or the neighbor who yells at you for not wearing a coat outside because “are you trying to get a cold?” or the stranger at the store who quietly tells you that your skirt is tucked in to your underwear.  Or you guys…who support me when I’m up or down and who celebrate my successes with the pride of a mom, and worry about me and send me articles about eating right and who sometimes even hang up my drawings on your refrigerator.  Being a great mother isn’t necessarily about having a child or being older or even gender…it’s about caring for others beyond expectation…and today I celebrate every one of you who have gone beyond the necessary to so show kindness, love, gentle education, and even criticism when needed.  It makes the world a better place.

So Happy Mother’s Day to you…no matter who you are.

PS. If you want, feel free to share a comment about anyone in you life who has been there for you in a way that made you remember that in a way we are all each other’s mothers sometimes.


And now…time for the weekly wrap-up!


Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):


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115 thoughts on “Mother’s Day is complicated.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. And someday, “Happy Mother’s Day” comes as a text instead of scrawled in crayon on a construction paper card.

    And that’s OK.

    Because it’s nice that their father still reminds them.

  2. I really needed to read that post today. I don’t think I realized how much I needed someone to say that until I read the title and started crying. Thank you.

  3. Wonderful post! Missing my Mom today after 2 years gone from us. But the hardest part was knowing I had not spoken to my son in 2 weeks after a stupid argument. Was really feeling down today. But he ended up texting me to tell me he loved me and would call when he got off work….second chances to make things better.

  4. This is my first Mother’s Day after my mom’s death. I’m trying to avoid it. Maybe next year I will think about those others who have filled that role.

  5. I like this definition of Mother’s Day much better than the Hallmark one. It means I need to buy more flowers, but I’m down with that… it also means I’m not stuck at the end of the giving chain today just because my own mother is… yeah.

  6. I lost my mom when I was 17 but she’s still the voice of reason in my head. My friend mom kim is always there for me like taking me to the doctor when I’m to sick to drive. My beloved friend feda always checks to make sure I’m ok and cheer me up when I’m depressed. Then there’s Michelle who I’m the one who’s getting her out of trouble and telling her no that will kill you and no you can’t kill him hiding a body is a pain in the ass. Erma and Amber who always make sure I have something to eat. And last but not least you Jenny who saved my life literally twice with in a year. To all the beautiful people out there I’m wishing you love.

  7. So very complicated this year. We lost our 4 month old granddaughter to a congenital heart defect. Her service was yesterday. Today I weep for her mother as she celebrates mother’s day with her other daughter.

  8. Apparently that house has been sold. I’d like to meet the buyers…wait, maybe not. Happy Mother’s Day!!

  9. I celebrated with my mother yesterday, because today was designated for my SO’s mother. Then, she backed out. My personal celebration was great! I received a copy of “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” with signed bookplate. Now I have all your books and the print from Independent Bookstore Day! Happy Mother’s Day to you and thank you for all you do!

  10. I meant the clown house. I can’t imagine the other house ever selling.

  11. Have a wonderful Mothers Day, Jenny, and all your readers. Thank you for the reminder that this day is not the same for all of us, and whatever way it shakes out, it’s still good.

  12. This was wonderful to read. I don’t have any kids but I have a tendency of being motherly, because I like to look out for other people and help when I can.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you.

  13. Happy Mothers’ Day to all the mom-types out there, including those who are both mom and dad as well as those whose children have fur, feathers, or scales.

  14. Mother’s Day is hard for me. When I was a little girl, my sister was my “other momma.” When Mom and Dad divorced, he never would pay his child support (1980’s, no interstate child support rules, he was a freelance contractor making more than 100K a year and would just pack up and move to another state any time my mom finally tracked down an address to try to take him to court). So my mom worked three jobs to try to take care of us.

    My sister was eight years older than me. Jodi was the one fixing my older brother and me dinner, reading us bedtime stories, helping us with homework, making sure we had clean clothes and took baths. After all of that was done, she would finally get out her own homework and work on it while she waited for my mom to get home from work. Jodi would have dinner reheated for Mom when she got home. All of this while undergoing treatment for Leukemia.

    Well, the treatments weren’t working, so we moved to another state so my sister could undergo what was then an experimental procedure to try to put her into remission – a bone marrow transplant. After lots of rounds of testing, it was discovered that I was a perfect match to be her donor. I was nine years old, Jodi was 17. Everyone impressed upon me that it was my job to save my sister.

    Jodi died on May 14, 1986. Mother’s Day this year is the anniversary of her death. That is one reason why it is hard, but it isn’t the only one.

    After Jodi died, my mom tried to put herself back together to take care of me and my brother, but it was hard. She worked her ass off to take care of us (yep, Dad still wasn’t paying child support) and give us as normal a life as possible. Fast forward a few years. When I was 20 and found out I was pregnant, Mom welcomed me back home with open arms. She was my fiercest protector and cheerleader. She loved me and my son with all of her heart.

    Two years after my son was born, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. She lived less than six months after the diagnosis. She died on November 16, 2000. I was 23 years old. I mourn her, as well, on Mother’s Day.

    However, I am still blessed to have a woman I call “Mama” in my life. My best friend from high school’s mother and father swooped in and took me and my son under her wing after my mom died. She calls my son her “first grandson” and calls me “daughter.” The whole extended family has welcomed us. We attend family reunions with them, exchange Christmas cards and birthday greetings. They all love me and my son. And when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, “Momma” and “Daddy” dropped everything and flew down here from out of state to help me.

    Mother’s Day is a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I mourn the mommies I lost; on the other, I am so grateful to have a third who loves me unconditionally.

  15. My mother inserted a tampon in front of me when I was 14. She was naked, and so she could achieve the best angle possible for the push, she placed one leg up on the toilet. You know, to really open things up. Later that same day, she bought me a bus ticket to Niagra Falls, and as I boarded the steps alone, she told me not to talk to any strangers. I went and found a seat beside a stranger. I think she was hoping I would be abducted, but the perm she had given me a week earlier all but guaranteed my safety. 31 years later I can look back at the events of that day, and all the other days with a profound sense of appreciation because all these things shaped me. I am a scarred, broken child, who can see magic in even the darkest places, and have her to thank for it. She did the best she could. So, 15 minutes ago I made sure to tell her just how much I love her – because, despite it all, I do.

    Thank you for inspiring us and continually making us feel comfortable to not only be ourselves but love ourselves as well.

    Happy Mother’s Day, Jenny!

  16. My Journalism teacher was there for me in a way that I can’t forget. She walked me to the counselor’s office at my school when I wanted to quit self-harm but was too scared to go on my own.

  17. Happy mother’s day. I love you. You’re such an inspiration and a godsend for many of us.

  18. The other day a guy my age (68) whispered that my fly was unzipped. Then he said, “If you were my mother, I wouldn’t want her to go around like that.” Mother figure? Laughing because at least I zipped my fly!

  19. I just went through a brain aneurysm and surgery. My friends Sara and Corrie have been there for me in person. My friend Tony has checked on me via text and phone calls every day. These are my “moms”. I appreciate all they are doing for me.

  20. Thank you SO much for this. I have a hard time with Mother’s Day, for many complicated reasons. However, you made me realize that I’m fortunate enough to have quite a few awesome mother-figures in my life. Thank you for that!!

  21. I have a mother who I love to bits but who baffles me with her list of who she hates (the Welsh, badgers, and puffins are just three of them in a very long list). She always brings round smelly candles when her and my dad come to visit (they don’t live locally) and I can always make her laugh by taking my dad’s side in everything (“poor papa” will have her laughing every time I say it)
    I also have a most wonderful mother-in-law who I adore utterly, and who also makes the best cakes. She makes little bouquets of flowers from her garden for my chap to bring home to me) and sends me stickers on messenger.
    I am a very lucky person indeed, despite the broken parts of me 🙂

  22. Oddly enough my youngest daughter who has no children of her own is one person that comes to mind as an honoree today. I have five children and my baby is the most level headed of all of them and that includes me. She thinks about me all the time and worries about my state of mind. No one wants to see me bedridden when a bout of Depression slams me but she actively encourages me to keep fighting especially when she knows events have occurred that might induce such a bout. She sends me jokes and random messages just to make me laugh. She doles out sound advice and can talk me down from a manic spell. Really wish she did not live two hours away! Someday she will make an awesome Mom but until then she can keep mothering me a bit.

  23. My Mom is awesome to the point where I have offered to lend her to my friends who aren’t so lucky. She’s like that. My high school friends always felt better after they’d been to my place.
    I sometimes “Mom” my friends – “Have you eaten? Have you slept? Have you taken your meds? Do you need to go out for ice cream? Put a coat on. No, we’re going to do something else right now, because you’ve done all you can in that situation that you’re freaking out about and you need to do and think about something else. Trust me. Do you trust me? You do. Of course you do, because I’m always right. Do you feel better? Do you want to talk about it? We could just watch TV if you want. Here, I made this hat for you because I know you were feeling sad and I thought you might like a hat.”

  24. In April of last year, my Mom died. 2016 sucked in so many ways. Today I am spending it watching Sense 8 s2, and doing laundry. I guess I am just avoiding the day.
    However I wanted to say the following:
    For all those who have given birth to a child
    For all those to foster a child
    For all those who have adopted a child
    For all those who have adopted a fur/feathered,scaley
    For all those who have lost a child
    For all those who can not have a child
    For all those estranged from a Mother or child
    know this….I love, admire, and celebrate you.


  25. You are a beautiful person. Thank you for this because I actually needed to read it. I have a train wreck of a mother so my parenting technique has been “What would my mother do?” and then do the absolute opposite. I think it worked because I have two awesome kids. Sure, they eat dessert first and don’t always make their bed, but that’s a small price to pay for self-confidence, a sense of humor and no alcohol or drug dependencies. I also have been blessed with many mother figures who helped me through life and I celebrate them today as well. :o)

  26. I decided many years ago that I did not want kids, but I have found my “motherhood” calling in rabbit rescue. I’ll never get a card – if I’m lucky a foster might nose-boop my ankle – but I know that I’m making a difference both for each of the buns I help but also by educating and working towards more humane legislation. My mom lives in FL and hasn’t made an effort to see me in 10 yrs, though I called her today. So I’m gonna cuddle my bunny now.

  27. Mama is 72 and wants to have a mother-daughter road trip soon. 😁 My daughter is a wonderful mother! My son says “I love you, mama” on a regular basis. I’ve been blessed with lovely people who have adopted me as their mother. This started when I was in high school and I’m WELL past that particular hell now.

    Bless all the mamas, the ones who are, the ones who couldn’t be. The one whose kids can’t be with them any longer, the kids whose mamas are no longer with them. The mamas whose children have two legs, the ones whose children have four. Bless those who are mamas to other women’s children.

    Bless the dads who do both jobs, and the mamas with that responsibility also. And bless you, Jenny, for acknowledging how very difficult and complicated this day can be. I’m a lucky one, mama just makes me roll my eyes on a regular basis lol!

  28. Mother’s day seems to get more and more complicated. It should be about helping people in situations where they are Mum, feel like it’s their special day. If people feel put out by that, I think it’s a bit sad and maybe they can find some joy in the happiness of others.

  29. Your drawings are so on my fridge. Thank you for this lovely essay.

  30. My grandmother is gone, so this is always a bittersweet time for my mother. But my mother… She raised me by herself when my father left, while at the same time taking care of my grandpa and grandma who constantly needed help. She worked two, three jobs at a time, but always had time for me. In elementary school she was the “school mom”, kids from all grades knew and loved her. She’s “retired” but still works part time to help me with bills. We still live together and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s had some major health problems and I’ve almost lost her more then once, and I know my world is going to crumble when she finally passes. But for now I’m just thankful for the time we have.

  31. Happy Mother’s, Jenny. 🙂 Very well put.

    I have a friend who acts with such kindness, selflessness, generosity and unconditional love, just like a Mom. She is always there for me (and I her). We’ve been friends for about 33 years. 🙂

  32. To Carolyn, Prissy, Mary Jo, and Marg who were my dog show mentors when I was 15 and showed a real knack for training and handling. My dog activities carried me through some very, very dark times, and I am so grateful.

  33. I have a pretty awesome mom, but at work I have a coworker who is just there and a good listener and helps life me up. She doesn’t just do that for me, but for everyone around her. She’s about my age, but her care and concern for me and the people around us is very motherly in the good way.

  34. Hope the day brings exactly what each of you (Jenny and readers) needs most in your life. For me, and so many others, the day holds complicated emotions. May healing, love, and peace surround everyone.

  35. Gave a copy of your coloring book to 2 of my students dealing with depression. (8th graders)
    One girl tells me she won’t color it because she doesn’t want to spoil the potential. But when she feels really sad she just opens it at random for words of wisdom.

  36. Gave a copy of your coloring book to 2 of my students dealing with depression. (8th graders)
    One girl tells me she won’t color it because she doesn’t want to spoil the potential. But when she feels really sad she just opens it at random for words of wisdom.

  37. I love that my son promised to read the latest draft of my book for mother’s day. It’s his gift to me. My gift to him was writing the book in the first place, but by the time I finished, he’d aged a couple of years and moved on to other genres.

  38. Happy Mothers Day to you!! Mothers Day is bitter sweet to me because I have 3 beautiful, happy, healthy boys who love me, but I also lost my mother in 2012 & I lost my son in 2000. So I try to look at all the positives, but it still hurts cuz I miss them terribly!!

  39. You have said exactly what I was trying to express earlier to some friends. You do not have to have given birth to a person to ” mother” them. I have been mothered my friends, siblings, co workers and strangers. I love that you included a ” nag” to not get sick. Nagging can be the highest form of love, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. Sorry to my mom for that, and I hope my kid realizes this someday!

  40. My mom took her life when I was 15. I was the only sibling left at home. My oldest sister became my mom. My daughter and I are so fortunate to have her so intensely in our lives

    I had the pleasure of spending Mother’s Day with her on an amazing weekend adventure

  41. Been thinking along these lines all day; about those that don’t have a mama anymore or those whose mama just can’t even or those who want to be a mama and the universe hasn’t obliged yet. You’re so right, in these sads and in all sads, we have to look for the good. We can and should all be each other’s mothers and it doesn’t have to be in the literal sense to be beautiful, meaningful and helpful. HMD, Jenny!

  42. This is sooooo weird, or maybe not, since this is, after all, part of my tribe, but I was thinking about almost the exact same thing and even wrote a blog post about it, before I read this. So I’ll just link to that here 🙂

  43. I celebrate my sweet, little mama every day. Her mother passed away when she was only four and she’s never used that as an excuse to not be an amazing mom. She’s been heroic, supportive, loving, funny and giving beyond. I’m so very fortunate to have her in my life and my family’s. I’m tearing up while Writing this because I just love her so.

  44. To all the people who regular mother me aside from my own mom–especially L and M who take such good care of me in a way that fills me with wonder and gratitude.

  45. Happy Mother’s Day, Jenny! I spent mine with my two daughters and daughter-in-law in Richmond. It was a wonderful day,

  46. Every year, I thank my mom for being my rock, my aunt for being there when my mom wasn’t and for my Grammie starting it all and being our inspiration! I am incredibly lucky to have these women in my life and I’m proud to be part of their tribe. I’ve carried on their tradition and am “Mom” to many others who needed mothering, because of the love I received from my mom. If you need a mom, I’ll bet there someone out there who would be thrilled to be your mom.

  47. Happy Mother’s Day to me wife of 23 years, who is amazing with our four kids and even handles me with good humor — Like Jenny, I experience depression and some social anxiety disorder.

  48. My mother was a single mom back in the 1960s and 70s before it was a normal thing. After losing her husband to cancer at 52, she raised me, a child who basically was in and out of hospitals for 13 years. She was my rock and and I would give up a whole hell of alot to sit down at a kitchen table, eat fried egg sandwiches and talk to her one more time. And hug her and never let go. Thirteen years after her death, I still miss her .

  49. This is my post for today:

    Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers out there. “Mother” is not a title that only those who have given birth, or become moms through other methods, have earned. Being a Mother is ever so much more complicated and woven into the fabric of life than you might think.

    Being a Mother is that moment when you put the needs of others before yourself and try to help them. Being a Mother is giving advice about the things you know when it’s asked for or needed. Being a Mother is giving your love and your time unconditionally to anyone who you might be mentoring in some way. Being a Mother is not the same as being a spouse, but we all know those moments when we “mother” them, too.

    Being a Mother is caring for and revering the lives of all living things. It is respecting the Earth and her gifts. Being a Mother is feeding the birds in the yard, adopting shelter animals, bringing that sad, cold, starving kitty you found outside in and loving it. It’s moving a turtle off the road so it doesn’t get crushed by a passing car.

    Being a Mother involves friendship, involvement in the lives of others, community. It truly DOES take a village, you know. It’s calling out to that neighborhood kid you see wandering all the time and showing genuine interest. No, you do not need to “know” them to mother them. You just need to sincerely care, and take ownership of the idea that you can, and should, make a difference somehow while you’re here. Being a Mother is both “nature” and “nurture”.

    Thank your mom, if you wish. A good relationship with the woman who brought you into this world is a fortunate, precious thing. But if you don’t have that, take the time to think about those who have mothered you in some way. If you can, thank them. They deserve it, and chances are, they don’t even realize that they are or were that to you. But cherish those relationships, and offer up the proof of your love and gratitude 365 days of the year, not just this 1.

    Being a Mother is not just biological. It is a feeling, too.

  50. Happy Mothe’rs Day to R. Fleming, who KNEW that I should not be left alone. Who would not let the depression take me out in Junior College. Who came to find me wherever I was hiding and make me go to the library to study. Who teased unmercifully about my insecurity until I had to give it up and move on or die of embarrassment, and who, to this day refuses to acknowledge that he saved my life. (He did)

    Thanks R. Wherever you are. Thank you.

  51. My tribe is full of wonderful people of all ages and genders who play the caring role of a mother so well, for everyone. For this I’m eternally thankful.
    Thank you Jenny for bringing us all together.

  52. Id like to say thanks and happy mothers day to all my coworkers who fussed over me while I was pregnant. Telling to me to take a break, put my feet up. Asking about dr’s appointments, about my baby’s health, about my health and how i was doing emotionally. And then fawning over my baby like an enourmous group of happy gradmothers. I love them all dearly.

  53. Happy Mother’s Day! It is definitely a complicated day – I have learned this while suffering through secondary infertility – I feel like my family isn’t complete yet, but I am also acutely aware of how lucky I am to already have a little person who calls me mum. I can’t help but think of those who want so badly to become mothers but who cannot right now, on a day like this. My experiences have forever changed me.

  54. I celebrate that at age 64, my mother is still alive and able, and I was lucky to have grandmothers who both lived a long time, and have had many wise mentors through the years. And thanks, Jenny, for you share your hard-won wisdom with all of us, too.

    Last night I was reading “Strange the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor, and there was a passage whose wise words could well have been written by you: “And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.” Thanks for the help with the dark parts.

  55. My friend Florence who was the first one to note “maybe he’s The One” when I told her how the guy I just met was the only one (besides family & close friends) that I wanted in my personal space. That guy and I have now been married for 21 years so she was spot On! Florence was an older co-worker and my friends and I greatly admired her for her positive take on life in spite of everything she had been through. Her husband had schizophrenia and she took care of him until the day he passed. It was not easy, she wasn’t even allowed to look at him but had to skirt around the edges of the room… She always took care of him with grace though. She lost a daughter to breast cancer, the list goes on. I loved her for her humor and compassion (and I credit her for my getting together with my husband!). I miss Florence.

  56. My Mama died in 91 1 day before the due date of my youngest. He was 3 weeks late so they induced him. Never got over losing her.

  57. My high school English teacher stepped in at a time when I couldn’t stand to even be in the same room as my mom. We hated the very sight of each other and I went five or six years without feeling an ounce of love for her. Things between us are….. Better. Superficial, but civil and even fun at times. I have two girls and she’s a wonderful grandma.

    But Donna entered my life at a time when I needed it most – I was a senior in HS and lost because all of my friends were going off to college. My own mom was asking to borrow money off my first credit card because she has a gambling addiction and my dad was going to leave her if she didn’t give him the money she lost. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING!

    Donna is retired now, and moved from MN to AZ with her husband who has a debilitating terminal illness – a shitty fucking hand that was dealt to the two people on the planet that could not possibly deserve it less. This woman is my angel. I try to visit every few months – it’s nourishment for my soul and I like to think she feels the same way.

    We are 29 years apart and couldn’t possibly be closer. ❤️

  58. Jenny. Thanks. I needed this. I’m grateful for my friends who threw me a 9 year old birthday party when I turned thirty because my alcoholic mother forgot. They said that my 9 year old self deserved a party. That’s when I realized you can choose family and it totally counts as real.

    Love you.

  59. Happy Mother’s Day to everyone. I know people who are parents and I have one myself (I know right?). I also know a lot of people who have lost their mothers and my heart goes out to them today. The same goes for women who have lost their children. I also have known a lot of women in my life who have been very kind to me and protected me and supported me. I also have to shout out to women who choose not to be moms and instead take care of their pets.

  60. Thank you for this, Jenny. There are so many people who struggle with the dichotomy of a day celebrating mothers with the legacy of a mother who was not worthy of celebration. I did at one time as well, until I came to understand that there WERE lessons learned from my mother and that was to be diametrically opposite. My children were cuddled, read to, laughed with, hugged, and told they were loved. I let go of my resentment towards her long ago and instead feel a great sorrow for her because she was incapable of appreciating the immensity of love between a child and their mother. So, in a long-winded manner, this is a hug for all those who did not have the greatest mom but rose above it to provide a legacy of love to their own children.

  61. Today my mom sent me a message with a photo of me laying beside her on a hospital bed with the caption Best Gift Ever. You almost can’t tell my twin didn’t make it. Mom had lost my older sister and older brother, my father had walked out on her during the pregnancy. The ultrasound showed 2 boys but there she lay, not touching me, with a look of awe that a dark haired daughter was now in her care. I had to fill the hole left by her 3 losses. I’m 34 with 5 losses and 2 sons of my own, and I am so happy that her caption stated that I was the best gift ever on this particular Mother’s Day!

  62. It really warms my heart to hear everyone’s stories. You’re so lucky to have such wonderful people in your lives. I try to keep my thoughts to myself because I get tired of being Debbie Downer. My mom’s idea of being supportive is just giving me money. We have no emotional connection and I’ve spent my entire life believing she’d be relieved if I was gone. But knowing that there are so many wonderful mothers out there restores my faith in humanity.

  63. Happy Mother’s Day to my wife, without whom I literally wouldn’t be here anymore. Chris, thanks for being such a wonderful mother to our child, and for knowing when I can’t be trusted to be alone.

  64. Thinking of my Gramie, who was such a badass. She left home at 14 because she had an abusive stepfather. Found a job at Woolworth’s and rented a room. Got married and had 2 kids in short order, even though her MIL tried to get her to abort the second with a knitting needle because MIL thought the kids were too close together (the second was my mom). During the Depression, she took in her young, divorced sister and her 2 children. She supported the family by picking rotten lemons from the packing house bins because the job paid a few pennies more than the other packing jobs. When it became clear that her husband was never going to be a stellar breadwinner, she started a little tiny stand selling baby clothes, and eventually expanded it to a nice clothing store for children and ladies. She had a hilarious sense of humor, could catch and clean a bass in no time, and did not take much crap. I still miss her.

  65. I want to do a reverse Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who has ever needed me and let me mother them. None of you seem to realize that by letting me in, and allowing me to care and help, you saved me. My kids make me a mother, but to everyone who has maybe not had their own and let someone else mother them, know that you have given that person a gift. Thank you to all the “kids” out there who may reach out to alternate moms. We love you.

  66. Just a little hug to all those who’ve had to be their own mothers, for whatever reason. You somehow got yourself through whatever it was that had to be gotten through. And here you are. Good job.

  67. My mother-in-law. I am in that lucky club of women who LOVES their mother-in-law. She has become one of my best friends in the 19 years that I have been with her son. She and her husband took me in, treated me like one of their own children, and have shown me nothing but love and support. She constantly amazes me with the things she does. Not long ago, she went for a complete career change and became a nurse, and her decision, strength, and achievements inspired me to follow my own dreams to become a Veterinary Technician. She supports me, encourages me, and was there every time I was in the hospital for a heart problem over the past year- and she knows of my mental health issues and is always there to listen and give me great advice. I love her as a mother and a friend, and I know I wouldn’t be there person (and mom) that I am today without her.

    And then there’s you, Jenny. You are, in a way, mother to us all. You made this wonderful place where we can come together, support each other, and lift each other up. You are truly amazing, and I hope you had the most amazing Mother’s Day- because you really deserve it!!

  68. My high school science teacher was there for me through two of the hardest years of my life when none of my parents or step-parents were. To this day, she is a partner of my life as the most maternal figure I’ve ever had. I am sometimes sad that I was 16 before I found had that relationship but I am indescribable grateful for her every day. I would likely not be alive today if not for her support and guidance.

  69. I will spend my Mother’s Day surrounded by doctors, nurses, therapists and alike who will spend their Mother’s Day treating my baby, keeping her safe and helping us rebuild our precious Norah. I joined a sorority that I didn’t want to pledge, the sisterhood of women who are raising critically ill children.

  70. I thank my sister – she and I ended up mothering each other somehow until we stumbled, badly, into adulthood. And myself…I’m so freaking proud of the mother I am. I’m able to nurture two amazing sons and finally care for myself without feeling the need to apologize. That’s worth celebrating.

  71. It was kind of a mixed Mother’s Day. In the last year, my mother died and my father died. But our daughter finally moved out on her own and our relationship is better. She’s also been very supportive in ways she hadn’t been before. So it’s been a bit odd, but…life goes on.

  72. this actually helped me today, it’s hard not to feel sorry for yourself if you’re me on mothers’ day, and I’ll work on this, thank you

  73. This is my first time reading your blog and I’ve already teared up. Well said – we should be grateful for all the mother figures in our lives, always. I know I am.

  74. My own mother passed away four years ago from cancer. Mother’s Day is still a very depressing day for me. I have a mother-in-law but she is very cold and distant and never liked me, even though I gave her three grandsons. Yesterday I felt like there were two awesome people I could thank besides my children. My son’s girlfriend lives with us and we are so much alike. She gave me someone I could nurture again. My youngest son’s ‘aide’ (he has autism; she his/was his attendant who became a friend/mom figure even though she’s younger than my oldest kid. She takes care of me and tells me when I’m being stupid and calls me on my bullshit. She is leaving after he graduates next month, but I’m sure she will check on me. I’ve been lucky and blessed. But I still want my mommy on Mother’s Day.

  75. I hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day. Mine was meh..started off with some cleanin and laundry that needed to get done and finished with a few hours hanging at the pool followed by making dinner. 🙂

  76. Usually for me, Father’s Day is the mixed bag holiday. He was, frankly, a controlling, lying, cheating, narcissistic man who preyed on the teenage girls he taught at the high school he taught at, for which he was fired. He died a year later, when I was 16. My mom is far from perfect, but she loves me and has always tried to do the best she could. And now I feel so lucky to have a good man as a husband and wonderful dad to our two boys, who are the center of my world. Being a mom and giving my kids a happy childhood is a gift that fills my heart with joy, even if it is the hardest thing I have ever done.

    But this year, I have two friends who lost newborn babies last summer, one to a congenital heart defect and one to severe preeclampsia that happened too early for the baby to survive for very long. And my heart breaks over and over for them. I have also made friends this year with a woman who experienced infertility and the struggle to conceive with several rounds of IVF but now has two beautiful kids. So I am thinking a lot about those who have a hard time on Mother’s Day this year, and your post was beautiful. My bff has definitely been a “mom-like” person for me sometimes! And she does deserve to know that, especially as being child free by choice she will likely not be recognized on Mother’s Day very often (although she does do a lot for her niece and nephew and they better recognize her someday!) 🙂

  77. My mom Alzheimers, She thought the cards and flowers yesterday were for her birthday. But for the day she was happy that people thought of her. When you are dealing with Alzheimers a day, sometimes a moment, is all you can cherish. Today she will wonder where all the cards and flowers came from and that is okay too. Living in the NOW isn’t really all it is cracked up to be.

  78. Ah, Mother’s Day. I get to spend it with my mom every year, just the two of us, for a couple of reasons.

    1) My husband’s gentle saint of a mother passed away when he was 18, and he still mourns her for the weeks surrounding and after Mother’s Day. She also had a May birthday, so it’s a solid one-two punch. I would not dream of subjecting him to a day with my mom, who is exhausting and narcissistic and melodramatic and keeps trying to get him to call her “Mom.”

    2) My mom has managed to alienate my two older brothers and, consequently, their families to the point where they avoid inviting her to their own Mother’s Day celebrations. My brothers are lovely in celebrating their own wives and mothers to their children, but they just can’t deal with Mom.

    Luckily for me, I can. Mostly. I only yell at her in exasperation about 30% of the time, which seems to be fine with her… she’s been exasperating the people around her since she could talk, to be honest, so she’s quick to forgive and move on to the next thing. And she desperately wants the company and physical touch. I remind myself how hard it must be to live alone as an extreme extrovert, with almost no human contact most days and a brain that won’t stop seeing faults in everything it lays eyes on. I try to put myself in her shoes, and it’s a really, really unpleasant experience.

    Most of the time, when I’m not actively yelling at her for trying to manipulate me to give her MOAR ATTENTION, I just feel bad for her. It’s not her fault her brain was wired the way it was. It’s not her fault she was born into a family that criticized everything, including each other, 24 ways to Sunday. It’s not her fault she didn’t have a mother who could love her freely until very late in life. I’m not sure she ever found another mother to care for her psyche; I’m pretty sure she had to mother herself in the midst of crappy role models. So I can try to mother her a bit. She managed to develop a few mothering skills when I was little, and I can amplify and pass those back to her. And I can let her mother me when she’s up to it, even though I’m almost 47 and have other resources I’d prefer to use. I can do that, right? I realized a few years ago that I will never have another mother (at least, not another Rosemary), and I’m fighting hard to be with her as much as I can, without poisoning myself. She helped make me the woman I am, in ways good and bad, and I owe her that much. So I guess Mother’s Day is really for mothering both of us, and mothering our relationship.

  79. This is a beautiful post Jenny. I am lucky enough to have a biological mom, but also be raised by my grandmother and aunt, whom I love as much as my mother. They taught me how to be stronger, and independent, and empathetic, and I could never truly thank them for all of the things I learned from them. I also have sisters, cousins, and friends who are mothers, with children I love so much. I have close friends struggling with fertility, and I pray everyday that they get their wish of a child they can shower with all of the love in their hearts. I have a soon-to-be sister-in-law whose mother is now an angel, and I cried for her Sunday morning because I can’t even imagine how difficult that must be for her. You are right that it’s more than just the traditional concept of a mother, it’s about any and all that give a mother’s unconditional love to those around them, in large ways and small. Happy Mother’s day y’all.

  80. My mom has been in a nursing home for the past two years, pretty much confined to her bed. I won’t say she’s easy to talk to any more, but man, she can STILL nail me between the eyes with some serious truth bombs. She is the only one who knows me perfectly, as much as I try to deny it, because she’s the person I’ve known longest on this planet, and for better or worse, that’s a very valuable thing.

  81. Yeah, it’s complicated. My mother was an emotionally abusive, neglectful, bitter woman. She has changed now that she’s old, and I have forgiven her, knowing she did the best she could, blah blah blah. But it’s impossible to feel tender, loving feelings towards her when everyone expects you to at Mother’s Day. This is why I moved a whole continent away…

  82. I so appreciate this post! My husband and I tried for over 7 years to have a child. We stopped short of the infertility treatments and testing mostly because I did not trust myself not to hold onto resentment. I always just thought it would happen for me, but it didn’t. I am thankful for the relationships I have had with my siblings and helping to raise them. I am grateful that my husband’s daughter thinks of me enough on Mother’s Day to wish me a good one, even though we have not built a strong relationship yet (she lives in a different state and we see her very rarely). I am blessed to have 9 nieces and nephews and oodles of friend’s children to steal when I need a date to a museum or play or Disney movie. There was a long time that I didn’t feel thankful, grateful or blessed because I was focusing on what I didn’t have. What I missed out on. For all those super aunties, fur baby mommies, and people that wish they were mommies like me, I hope you found something to celebrate on Mother’s Day and that you too can find the silver lining to your unfortunate inability.

  83. Thanks to the myriad of teachers in HS and College who nurtured me when i was my most unlikeable, despite my proclivity to push people away so many elected to keep pushing back. And because of them, I’m alive. To Jessica (Oh Captain, MY CAPTAIN); To Keith; To Doug; To Lynn; To Lyle. They may not believe that they had a significant hand in me sticking it out and living, but they absolutely did. The world is a better place for having these people in it.

  84. When you click on “And speaking of nightmares…read the description. This is a horror movie waiting to be moved into.”, after reading this amazing description, click on “Estate Sale” near the top. AMAZING. I love estate sales. I would buy that painting in a heartbeat!!

  85. I like your idea of Mothers day very much. However, Miss Manners would NOT approve, she believes you only honor your own Mother.

  86. Thanks for writing this Jenny! I have a wonderful daughter who celebrates my contributions to her life and our against-the-odds fabulous relationship on Mother’s Day. I say against the odds because I had a terrible relationship with my own mother who I have diagnosed (without any training at all) with borderline personality disorder. That last gift I gave her–probably 40 years ago–was a gift certificate to a spa for fancy-pants facial. She got angry at me and accused me of thinking that she was ugly. For most, their mother’s death is heartbreaking. For me, it was as if I dropped 50 pounds. I am lucky that my father’s sister treated me like a daughter and was there for me when she could be. Most of my healing from my childhood was being the mother I never had.

  87. Thank you for being you and being open about it. It lightens my burden of weird crap I’m carting around, knowing we all have our own flavor of bizarre and no one is actually normal vanilla. And thank you for having an awesome sense of humor. I’m pulling out of a 6-month-long dark tunnel and the light is definitely getting brighter. (Menopause is a bitch.) And on days when I have just enough energy to wake up, pee, and maybe read a book, it’s the best kind of therapy to laugh until my stomach hurts. My mother had her own struggles with depression and some of her coping methods were absolute genius. I’ve learned more than I can reasonably describe from my mother. I’m including a link to a blog post I wrote about how she dealt with frustration and disappointment, should anyone have 5 minutes they need to fill and have nothing better to do. (And I’m not really promoting my own blog, as you will see, should you actually have nothing better to do and happen to click the link, I haven’t updated it for 3 frickin years. And I haven’t for the exact reason I started writing the blog — I have FIVE sons. This weekend alone they put a new hole in the upstairs hall way and broke a door. Fallout from a “sting” pong tournament. (Ping pong + sharpshooting. Really.)) So, happy Monday! My Mother’s Day gift to anyone who bothers to read this!

  88. Mother’s Day is always hard for me, but I’ve never been able to say that because I am not a woman who lost a baby, and my mom is still alive. BUT I am a woman who wanted nothing more than to grow up and have a family of my own. I am 43 and have never met the guy who was supposed to be my husband and father of my (much wanted) children.

    Instead I am a 43 year old woman who has had to figure out how to accept and live with the fact I have no family of my own. I will never carry or hold my own child.

    Instead I am a 43 year old woman who once idolized her mother but lost any hope of a good relationship because of one moment on one day in the summer I was 16.

    I was sitting on the floor of her bedroom and had just told her I had been raped at a party I had attended the night before. My mother looked at me and shaking her head said “You aren’t acting like someone who was raped.”

    I never told her anything important again. I never trusted her again. The person I was supposed to be died that morning in that room.

    I HATE Mother’s Day. I hate being made to feel guilty by my family for not fawning over my mother, especially since her birthday is the 14th and often falls on Mother’s Day. I HATE that I will never have my own children to spend Mother’s Day with. I HATE that my violated body never carried my own child. I hate that my own mother continues to accuse me of lying about everything I tell her even though the ONLY lie I ever tell her is “I love you”.

    My mother’s mother was my TRUE mother. My Grandma was the ONLY person I ever felt truly loved me unconditionally and for who I really was. I have had major depression since I was 6 years old. I had my first major anxiety/panic attack when I was 3. By the age of 17 I had been hospitalized twice for suicide attempts. My Grandma was the ONLY person in my life that kept loving me and doing what she could to make me better.

    Mother’s Day was always about my Grandma. She was my true mom. She passed away last year in March and I was so consumed with grief I wasn’t able to function until earlier this year. Last year in general was very hard for me, but losing the woman I loved more than other human in the world just did me in.

    I AM grateful that I have two best friends who love me for who I am, annoying mental health issues and all. I am grateful that 10 years ago one of them drove all through the night (after working a full day) to come pick me up, move as much of my stuff as we could, and drive me back to her home in another state so she could get me help and help me heal. Last year she researched and spoke to my Dr’s and learned as much as she could so that she could help me get through my breakdown. I lost my therapist of over 7 years due to our state badly mishandling it’s bills and the clinic I went to was shut down. My friend/roomie Christin did all she could to support me, heal me, care for me and even kick my butt if need be. Even though she is younger than me she became that loving, supportive, nurturing mother figure I needed so very badly.

    I am grateful that I can now smile and remember all the happy times I had with my Grandma and that I only cry once and awhile because she is gone. I am grateful Christin makes me laugh so hard I pee a little and my stomach hurts. I am grateful my other best friend, Steph, who has known me since I was 2 years old calls her son my son and spends hours on the phone with me laughing and telling me how much she loves me and my goofy weirdness.

    And I am grateful that I am able to come here and write all these words I want to shout out but am afraid too. I am grateful I won’t be judged by any who might read them and that I might even find others in this tribe who can relate to them.

    I am grateful I have such an awesome touchstone in the amazing, wonderful, messed up Bloggess so I don’t feel so alone. I am grateful she shares HER words so I can laugh and cry over and over and renew my hope and find strength to go on one day at a time.

  89. Hello! I’m new. Technically Victoria (V.E.) Schwab sent me but she doesn’t know it cause she just mentioned your book in an interview and now, as I did with her, I’m consuming all you’ve ever written.

    Right, with the creepy out of the way I want to say that my mom is amazing and the definition of caring beyond expectation (and believe me my dad expects all kinds of shit). But also, my boyfriend, enabler, and life partner J who took care of me in my darkest moments of anxiety and depression even though we had sort of just met and I was from the other side of the world. He was a mom to me many times and he would absolutely hate that I wrote that.

    Thanks for everything Jenny!

  90. I missed checking in with The Tribe on Mother’s Day because I was away celebrating with my family and SIL’s family. A lovely day was had by all.

    I wanted to thank the mothers that birthed those of us who are adopted kids. Little bro and I are both adopted, and have never attempted to meet birth parents. I know that somewhere in the world there is or has been a woman who in the 1970’s who decided that giving me up to another couple was the best thing she could do for me. And she was right.

    My adopted mom is a gem. A saint. A lady of unparalleled grace and loveliness. We talk every single day about everything and everyone. My day isn’t complete until I get to hear about her adventures in retirement, playing with grandchildren and visiting relatives and gardening and chasing my dad around and tutoring children and generally just being awesome. And my birth mom gave me the chance to know this.

    How could I not say thanks?

  91. I wrote a very similar facebook post (injections and all) on Mother’s Day and just read this now. My son is 2 and Mother’s Day is still a little weird for me. I love it, but it’s hard to forget those years I didn’t get to celebrate the day even though I was trying so hard to be a mom and felt pretty motherly toward my fur babies. Pretty sure I’ll ease into thoroughly enjoying it though.

  92. I lost my foster mom on Mother’s Day. We found out about a month ago that she had breast cancer that had spread to her liver and her brain. She was flawed, as we all are, but that didn’t stop her from taking me in, loving me, and supporting me through some very difficult times in my life. She always had my back, and I knew that. I called her regularly, and we stayed close over the years. Thank you, Robbin. You made my life better and helped me to become who I am today. I miss you desperately. <3

  93. I’m late on this one. Lost my mom 2 years ago. Which isn’t exactly accurate–she’s not so much lost as she is no longer here with us. I miss her most on mom’s day. Not because she was that supportive when I was growing up, but I knew I could always fall back on her if needed after I grew up, had kids, got crazy and divorced and it took doctors 30+years to get any kind of control over my craziness, and because after 50 years, she apologized to me for not knowing there was really something wrong with me and saying she wished she had known so she could have helped. But now I have my BFF Debi, who is the younger sister I never had, the equally crazy person in my life I can always trust to know when I’m having problems and I can talk to about everything. Any time. And I love her because she’s such a wonderful person.

  94. This post may be a little late, but I am infamous for being late. I always enjoy your posts and this one is worthy of my lateness!!!
    Can one’s daughter be a mother figure? I know it’s sounds a little needy and weird, but there are times in my life that my 30 year old is just that.
    I’m actually a pretty independent human being, but sometimes I’M the one that needs the consoling, or a kind steady voice of reason, or even someone just to hear my crap 💩!
    And because she is who she is, she reminds me of the life lessons I’ve taught her and how I helped her through things. And that reminder is like a cue for me to grow up and remember who I am!
    Yup! My mother figure vote goes to my daughter! 👩‍👧💕.

  95. I’m just seeing this post. Thank you SO MUCH for writing this! I’m blessed to have my mom and grandmother with me for Mother’s Day, and I know not everyone has that. Mother’s Day is still sad for me though because I want children and have none. I’ve cried hysterically every Mother’s Day since my sister has had her son. Thank God for my mom; she helps me on that day. It’s supposed to be a day about her, and she spends at least a portion of it comforting me. Moms are the best thing in the world. Thank you again.

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