Mother and Child

Dolly is without pedigree papers, so her date of birth is unknown. I’m told she was born on a farm in mid-May, so I designate Mother’s Day as her birthday. Today, she’s two years old.

Since I’m without mother or child, I take the birthday girl for a walk, hoping to generate enough serotonin to lift the funk of this motherless child.  There are many middle-aged single women living on my lane, and I notice they all seem to be home alone. From that observation, I surmise that on this day designated to honor our earthly source of life, many mothers are not with their adult children. And many adult children are not with their mothers.

After I moved four hours away from my hometown, I seldom saw my mother on Mother’s Day. We postponed paying homage to motherhood each year to keep peace in our family. My father’s birthday followed by less than two weeks, so we’d celebrate both on the same day – his day. To have done the opposite would have been unthinkable…to him. So, my mother was one of those women without her children on Mother’s Day. She always assured me that a phone call would suffice until we gathered for his birthday. “It’s not that big a deal to me. Really.”

I now wonder if it might have been a bigger deal than she let on. Like most mothers, she was used to sacrificing. Now that my parents are gone, I wish we’d had two celebrations. But at the time, one was all I could handle due to the accompanying family drama.

In a bizarre way, this neighborhood scene – all these women alone on Mother’s Day – gives me comfort: Even if I’d had children, I might still be alone today. There are no guarantees of affiliation or proximity. But it also makes me want to shout out, to rent a billboard, to sound the warning: If you still have a mother on this earthly plane, spend as much time with her as you can. Because too soon, she’ll be gone forever.  

(excerpt from Chapter XV of manuscript Healing with Dolly Lama: Finding God in Dog by Patricia A. Nugent)




Filed under Journal Arts, They Live On, Uncategorized

6 responses to “Mother and Child

  1. Marie Jordan

    So true! Mother’s Day does raise many emotions, often not the ones expressed on Hallmark cards.


  2. Pettis, Ann Marie

    This brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. I was just sitting here finally reading the paper and was so excited and thrilled to see the article about the book. Amelia is so proud I’m sure as am I!

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Thank you – that means a lot from someone who knew me (and her) back then.


  4. Jody H Wheeler

    Great insight Pat.. thx much.. I tried to reach out a bit to Mothers I know, and friends who never had kids..


  5. Peg Wallis

    As always Pat, your writing captures an element that isn’t always visible to others. I sit now watching my Alzheimer’s impacted mother sleep. On most days still knows me though she insists she is not my mother. It is like living a second childhood as she still engages in the ways in which she always did in my growing up…only the behaviors come out of the blue and are magnified (i.e. the negativity is more dire, the nastiness sharper). At the same time I can now work to rid myself of so much of her distressing impact on my life by being the mother to her I never had. I am grateful though exhausted for each day I have left to care for her. While I did not have children of my own, I feel I am somehow breaking the cycle.


  6. jfrobb

    Pat – Apologies for such a belated response. But here it is – Reading this piece makes me even more eager to see all of ‘Healing with Dolly Lama’ in print. Looking forward to that!
    Meanwhile, during those patches of holiday funk (which I sometimes have too), please remember there are mother-daughter combinations (including my mother and me) that do not work for various reasons. While your billboard advice is good, it is, sadly, not for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

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