What It's Like to Be a Mom Without a Mom, on Mother's Day

It’s almost Mother's Day. Even in the wake of burying my beautiful, beloved mom, it is still my favorite day of the year. It's not because of the #1 Mom masterpieces, the cereal-and-brown-banana breakfasts in bed, or even the sweet kisses and declarations of love. It's because I am fortunate enough to be a mom. Motherhood is not a gift all women receive. And I know some moms don't get enough time on earth to fully raise a child.


Each morning, I have the privilege of waking up with my fondest dream realized ... even when he begs me for five more minutes in bed, screams "Mom!" 1,042,747 times before breakfast, or delays getting dressed until I have to threaten to take his bike away. On Mother’s Day, my heart is with him, exactly where my mom would want it to be. On Mother's Day, I smile, as she would want me to. On Mother's Day, the love that flows between my child and me brings her love to the forefront of my mind, overwhelming me with memories that do not involve a cemetery.

To be a mom was a gift that my mom cherished, and I cherish. Here’s what it means to be a mom:

To be a mom means I lost more than 350 hours of sleep during my son’s first year of life alone. I will forever miss those sleepless nights with my sweet boy, nursing him, holding him, loving him. I gained so much during those lost hours.

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To be a mom means I observe every milestone with a sense of wonder. How can it be possible my once defenseless baby now delivers a mean right hook? Yesterday, he was immobile. Today, he is jumping off the couch, superhero-style, nearly missing my 12-pound dog to ensure I am hyper-vigilant.

To be a mom means I smile effortlessly, almost involuntarily, because I am so amused, so awestruck, so deliriously proud of my little masterpiece of a man. It doesn’t start with the curve of my lips; it wells up from the inside. It’s a smile I didn’t smile until I gave birth. And when he smiles back at me, the world is alright. My son’s dimpled grin is my saving grace.

To be a mom means I forgive freely. My baby is all about saying “I am sorry.” One minute I am the “worst mommy in the world,” the next he is proposing marriage on bended knee. Children are like balloons full of air; one wrong move and they’re in spiral mode, deflating quickly. But it’s so easy to fill them back up again. I follow his example and don’t hold grudges.

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To be a mom means I have to push my own limits. When I first dropped my son off at preschool, I sat in the parking lot like a stalker, unable to put my car in reverse. I knew he would love it, but what if he needed me and I wasn’t there? All of his “firsts” -- eating solid food (choking), crawling (perfect height for electrocution), walking (falling), running (away from me in a public place, yikes!) -- made me uncomfortable. But I have to give him the wingspan to fly.

To be a mom means applauding my son’s creativity when he dresses up like a fireman to go out to lunch. I delight in his silliness. He makes me laugh until tears form in the corners of my eyes. The other person who made me giggle like that -- the snort-worthy, hyperventilating type of cackle -- was my mom.

To be a mom means I am an eternal student, college degree be damned. My son is a teacher of patience, humility, perseverance, dexterity, love. He’s delivered some of my most important life lessons.

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To be a mom means I was alive, but not truly living, before I delivered my greatest contribution to the world. I can remember my life without my baby, but I don't really want to.

What does it mean to you to be a mom?


Jodi Meltzer shared this post from Mommy Dish with CafeMom as part of our monthlong tribute to moms for Mother's Day. Jodi is a former television reporter who has interviewed everyone from Hillary Clinton to Van Halen. She transitioned to Mommy Dish blogger and Huffington Post contributor when her kids -- a 5-year-old son and 8-year-old bonus son -- swallowed her whole. She escapes their grips with bold coffee, inappropriate humor, the '80s on 8, and, on rare occasion, date nights with her beloved fiancé. (Send babysitters proficient in rambunctious little boys. Stat.) You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Images via Jodi Meltzer; design by Anne Meadows

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