Single Mom on Mother’s Day

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I had an honest-to-God good Mother’s Day for the first time since I’ve become a mom. There was nothing particularly different about it in theory except this time my four year old had the language skills to repeatedly ask me when it would be “child’s day,” unconvinced that every day since his birth has been one long celebration of that.

I used to get particularly sad about my single-mom status on Mother’s Day. I’ve always had a great support system who never let that anxiety-producing day pass without gifting me the flowers or cards I’d always imagined I’d get from a spouse. I know it might sound ungrateful (which it certainly is not), but it just isn’t the same. Mother’s day used to remind me not of all my son has and all that I have in him, but of all I lack, of all I’ve failed to provide. Of dreams shattered.

This year was different. Perhaps I’ve just put in my time– the years of grief have finally watered the grounds and new life is starting to bloom– above the surface where you can actually see all the hard work that has been going on all along.

This year I was able to believe people who said “you’re a great mom” and even if there was (and there probably wasn’t) an unspoken “given the circumstances” that followed the sentiment, I was able to ignore it. For the first time, I didn’t feel like I was doing great with what I had, but just that I was doing great. My family was full and rich– not lacking. Not substandard. Not broken.

Painting, perhaps more than anything else got me here. My painting career and my son’s life go hand in hand. I started when he was just a baby.  Making things from blank pages made me feel powerful. If a surface is blank, there is no end to how you can color it. My touch means something. I make things happen even if it’s just a bright blue line across a stark white canvas.

my first ever painting of my son and me

So to all my single moms (and dads) I was thinking of you today as I painted. God, this whole thing can be so hard. Your marks matter– are no less worthy than anyone else’s. The way you color your blank pages is beautiful; I’ve learned from so many of you. Thank you.

And if you need a little encouragement, read this, it gets me every time!











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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

May 15, 2017

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