Happy Mother’s Day!
This year for Mother's Day I sent my mom some cute tea towels along with a sappy Hallmark-type card that helped me express my love and thanks and which I know she appreciates so much.
While writing in the card, I stopped and thought about just how much my mom has done for me over my lifetime and how much I miss her, given all the miles between us. As a university student I moved away to the other side of the country and never went back. Both my parents instilled an independence in me at a very young age that made me want to make my own way in the world. It has served me so well over the last 46 years and it may be the greatest gift they gave me. (Aside from life, I suppose.)
My mom is one of those people who was born to parent. Even now at 74, with four daughters and five granddaughters spread out across the continent, it remains her greatest passion and foremost priority. She sends me hand knit slippers in the mail. Whenever I breeze through town great motherly effort is made, with fresh bed linens, relatives rounded up, meals planned and a plate of homemade brownies left by my pillow at night. I kid you not.
And did I mention my mom also sends me a card for Mother’s Day? Thanking me for being born (like I had anything to do with it) and telling me I’m her favourite. She does this for all of her daughters.
Some people, on the other hand, were born to not parent. Like me, for example.
I stumbled upon non-parenthood without conscious intent, as I focused on work while others were rearing offspring and the years rolled by. That, and I never gave the idea of a kid enough importance to either go it alone or stay in the wrong relationship. Then at some point along the way I decided I could do more by taking a different track in life. Of course there have been moments of “woulda shoulda coulda” and periodic wonder about what that kind of life would have looked like, but never any regrets.
And over the last few years I have come to realize that I am in an amazing position to play a unique and influential role in the lives of many children. I have friendships with kids that would not be possible if I was a parent myself. I have patience and time and a curiosity that parents may not have, particularly about other people’s kids. I think the kids in my life see me differently then many other adults, being that I’m a grown up and without my own kids. It is allowing me to offer something parents can’t.
My friend’s 12-year-old and I discuss our latest baking projects and she invites me to her school plays. My niece in Brooklyn texts me for my opinion on her new kicks and another friend’s daughter just graduated from university and wants my career advice. I am coaching a certain 8-year-old on how to convince her parents to buy her a lizard. Then there’s the 14-year-old who needs help dealing with the mean girls at school and that her dad, “just doesn’t get it.” All these relationships happen directly, whether by text, snapchat, instagram, telephone, email or in person and not via a parent.
So earlier this week when someone asked me how I feel about the fact that I don’t have children, I had to chuckle to myself as I thought of Claire Underwood (played by Robin Wright) from House of Cards. She delivered the absolute best line of this season, when she responded to character Hannah Conway who had asked Claire if she ever regretted not having children. Underwood fixed her steely eyes on Conway and replied, “Do you ever regret that you did?”
In considering my own response I channeled my inner Claire Underwood said exactly what she would have. Besides, I thought, I’m too busy being a non-parent to all the kids in my life to think about that.
It takes a village. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there!