On November 1, 2006 my daughter Sophie and I became statistics. Not quite three, she joined the ‘Motherless Children’s Club’. And I became part of the 8% of U.S. households where a single father is raising a child.
That was the day my wife, actor and filmmaker Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), was brutally murdered while working in her West Village office.
For the past fifteen years I’ve struggled to get Sophie and I through yet another painful Mother’s Day. It’s not a celebration in my home. It’s more like an intense 24-hour stomach virus.
The day is especially difficult for Soph, who went to bed one cold Autumn night a happy, innocent toddler and woke the next morning to a dark, unrecognizable world.
Sophie is 17 now. She’s had to navigate through her early childhood, her angst-ridden teens and a terrifying pandemic without the love, guidance and nurturing of her mother.
So tomorrow is a day neither of us are looking forward to.
It’s also a day many people are dreading.
Because not everyone has a mother.
Some have a mother they don’t like. Or even love.
Some have mothers who are neglectful. Or worse, physically and/or verbally abusive.
Some have mothers who’ve died. Or are dying. Or whose body is thriving but whose mind has deteriorated.
Some have mothers who didn’t want them.
And then there’s Sophie, whose mother absolutely adored her, but was tragically ripped away by a monster.
Mother’s Day is a cruel reminder that when it comes to moms, we are not all created equal.
Sophie mourns the loss of the mother she never got to know. She can only close her eyes and imagine. Imagine what it must be like to have a mother. Her mother.
Mother’s Day makes her feel different. Because it seems like everyone has a mother and she doesn’t.
It’s also a time of infuriating insensitivity of others, like the time when her class assignment was to make Mother’s Day cards and her teacher suggested she make one for her dog instead because she didn’t have a mom.
It’s a day when Sophie often steps away from her social media apps because they’re dominated by sugary ‘mom and me’ photos.
Perhaps we can be a bit more sensitive to those who suffer on Mother’s Day.
Especially the motherless children.
Life is hard enough just being a kid. It’s a more complicated landscape to navigate when they’ve been robbed of the beautiful, kind, loving mommy they sadly only know through photos and videos.
Not everyone will be happy tomorrow. And assuming they will just makes it worse.