For the past few years, I would browse card aisles irked by the spelling of Mother’s Day. My inner grammarian would nag at me. Shouldn’t it be Mothers’ Day (S apostrophe)? Sure, it was a day to celebrate my wonderful, selfless, 365-day-a-year celebration-worthy mom … but it was a day for all moms to celebrate and to be celebrated. No matter how inclusive we’ve become to mom-like friends and women trying to become moms, motherhood was not club that I could call my own. The day applied to only those members. Plural.
This year, I finally understand Mother’s Day … apostrophe S.
Sure, my day began at 4 a.m. trying to lull my sleep-averse eight-and-a-half-month-old back to schluffy in his crib. And, yes, I was the one to make sure that all of the grandmas’ and aunts’ cards were purchased and signed and that the lunch delivery for our guests was all set (because, well, emotional labor). But it was still my day.
After years of wanting to become a mom, more than a year of actively trying (and finally enlisting a bit of science and medicine to help), and a somewhat complicated pregnancy, I am able to call myself a mommy … a singular among the plural. I actually wish I saw it that way before. Perhaps realizing the importance of the singular would have made the day feel less exclusionary in the past when I so desperately wanted it to also apply to me.
Sure, many aspects of becoming a mom are part of a universal experience. I mean, the cult of motherhood is real. But it is also the most personal choice and experience — and not just because every mom and every child is different. Even with the copious labels we bestow upon one another (stay-at-home mom, working mom, breastfeeding mom, helicopter parent, free-range parent), each person’s experience is entirely unique. Some moms have to navigate parenthood alone. Some share motherhood with another mom.
But for many, it is one of the most intense life changes comprised of the most rewarding moments … moments that are often unseen by others. The huge hugs I get every morning lifting my sweet boy from his crib. The way he eats my cheek and laughs when I ask him for a kiss. The nuzzles he gives me when he is fighting sleep but ends up napping in my arms. The joy that overcomes him when he learns something new (someone is a clapping champ!) and knows how proud I am. The giant smile that spreads across his face when I sing silly songs accompanied by ridiculous dance moves around our apartment. The day is as much about him, the one who made me a mommy, as it is about me.
And every mom should get to feel that way. Every mom should feel special and unique — every day and especially on a day like Mother’s Day. It took becoming one to understand the placement (and emotional importance) of that apostrophe S … even while celebrating the S apostrophe.