Grandma Chunkie’s Chocolate Pie Recipe

My Grandma Chunkie made the best Chocolate Pie! With only 5 ingredients, this rich chocolate pie recipe is a quick and easy dessert everyone loves!

Grandma's Chocolate Pie recipe. With only 5 ingredients, this rich chocolate pie recipe is a quick and easy dessert.

Grandma Chunkie’s Chocolate Pie Recipe

This chocolate pie recipe is our family tradition thanks to my fun Great-Grandma Chunkie! I remember Grandma Chunkie as a fun little spit fire with pink tinted hair and always wearing a cute apron. I guess she was heavy as a child and that’s where the name came from. All my great-aunts and uncles had nicknames. One was even called Aunt No No.

I loved going to Grandma Chunkie’s house, because she was always baking something tasty. She grew up working in her family’s restaurant in Tulsa. She also let me play with all her jewelry (clip on earrings!) and make-up. I loved hearing stories of her travels and times when she dated a pro-wrestler… the kind like you see now on the WWF! Ha.

She would tell me crazy stories, like how you had to be careful traveling back when she was a girl because Indians would kidnap you. Or the time she and her brother ran away when they were really little. They tied themselves together so they wouldn’t get lost (or kidnapped by Indians) on the train. Who knows what was the truth? Ha!

Originally Published May 7, 2009

Grandma Chunkie's Chocolate Pie recipe

Born in 1908 as Lily Maybell, Grandma Chunkie later changed her name to Lillian.

Grandma Chunkie was also a sister of Christ! When I would go on ski trips, she would pray on a cloth and make me put it in my pocket to keep me safe:-) In college, I would get these little prayer cloths in the mail every now and then.

This photo of Grandma Chunkie is probably from the 1940’s. I think she is alive and well in my daughter! I see a lot of Grandma Chunkie in my own little spit fire.


The best Chocolate Pie

Grandma Chunkie made THE best pies! Usually for our Thanksgiving dinners, we would have about three pumpkin pies along with banana, lemon and chocolate. I never liked pumpkin pie, so she always made me my own mini chocolate pie. A Thanksgiving tradition, I started with my kids. I’ve posted this recipe before, but in case you missed it, here it is again. Enjoy!!

Grandma's Chocolate Pie recipe. With only 5 ingredients, this rich chocolate pie recipe is a quick and easy dessert everyone loves!


Grandma Chunkie’s Easy to Make Rich & Creamy Chocolate Pie

For all you chocoholics, this pie is a must! Here’s the recipe that she wrote on a small piece of paper. You can print the recipe below.


  • One large Hershey Candy Bar (milk chocolate) 8 oz (now I get 2 large chocolate bars)
  • 18 large marshmallows cut up
  • 1/2 cup sweet milk (I don’t know what that meant… so I just use regular milk)
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip
  • Baked Pie Shell


  1. Melt Candy bar and marshmallows in milk over low fire until smooth. Cool.
  2. Add 1-9 oz Cool Whip into chocolate mixture
  3. Pour into baked pie shell and keep cool until ready to serve.
  4. Spoon a large helping of Cool Whip on your slice of pie! (I like to add chocolate sprinkles too)

Did you have a grandma like my Great Grandma Chunkie?

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Grandma's Chocolate Pie

Grandma’s Chocolate Pie recipe. With only 5 ingredients, this rich chocolate pie recipe is a quick and easy dessert everyone loves!

  • 2 1.55 oz Hershey candy bars
  • 18 large marshmallows cut up
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 8 oz Cool Whip or Homemade Whipped Cream
  • 1 Baked Pie Crust
  1. Bake the pie shell and let cool.

  2. Melt candy bar and marshmallows in milk over low fire until smooth. Let cool.
  3. Stir in one 9 oz. Cool Whip into chocolate mixture.
  4. Pour into baked pie shell and keep cool until ready to serve.
  5. Spoon a large helping of cool whip on your slice of pie!

The post Grandma Chunkie’s Chocolate Pie Recipe appeared first on Living Locurto.

It’s Mother’s Day, So Leave Me The Hell Alone

The irony of Mother’s Day is that mothering is the exact last thing I want to do on this one special day of the year dedicated to the moms who give their all to these tiny fart nugget children who are also the pride and joy of our very existence in this life. 

Holla at me if you relate to any of the following: 

I’ve bled for these children, fluctuated 50 lbs a piece for these children, fed these children (FROM MY OWN BOOBS WHICH ARE NOW SAD AND FLAPPY BECAUSE OF IT), lost sleep for these children (so much sleep, remember what it felt like to sleep? ), sprouted varicose veins for these children, gotten stitches in my vagina for these children, spent all of my money on these children, attended so many games and practices for these children where they do nothing but swarm around a ball, or sit in the outfield and stare at the sun. Driven all over kingdom come for these children.

happy mothers day sleep

Worn my heart on the outside of my body for the past 9+ years for these children. 


And yet, the last thing I want to do on this blessed day is to actually be around these children. Like, at all. 

It’s nothing personal, my sweet darlings. It’s just that I want a day. One day, just one where I can 100% check out and the house doesn’t burn down and life goes on and we all wake up the next morning and go back to our old routines.

I need one day to enjoy Netflix to my heart’s delight, to sleep in, to lock the door without small hands sticking underneath or anyone asking me to help them wipe. One day without breaking up a fight, just one. I need one day where Dad handles it all. I don’t want flowers necessarily (although, I wouldn’t say no because flowers are beautiful and delicate, just like me), I don’t even need a gift.

I do want my children to understand that this is a special day just for Mom where we have to leave her alone, OR ELSE, and that they all must make her a card professing their love and appreciation, even if that card just has their name written on it with some half-crooked hearts and something that looks like an orc drawn on there which actually turns out to be a rendering of yours truly.

Whatever, it’s fine. I’ll take it. 

Dads or significant others, do your lady a solid on this Mother’s Day if you’ve still got kids at home (and if they’re gone make sure you remind them to call home because duh, still important): 

  1. Have each child write a card or note to her expressing their love and undying devotion and appreciation and make sure you write her one too.
  2. Let her sleep in
  3. Get her favorite treat and leave it like a peace offering at the bedroom door. Don’t open the door unless she specifically calls for you and invites you into her kingdom, for she is the queen of the day. Or whatever. 
  4. Don’t ask her to do anything. Anything at all. If she comes out of her room don’t make eye contact and just stare at the ground unless she speaks to you directly. 
  5. Don’t ask any questions either, you can figure it out for one single day. 
  6. Prepare or fetch any food for her that she desires. Bonus points for having her favorite treat on hand (*COUGH CHOCOLATE COVERED CINNAMON BEARS).
  7. Let her wake up to a clean house. Do the dishes, don’t leave laundry out, just take care of the kids and all the stuff she does every single day. You can do it. Don’t screw this up. 
  8. Don’t forget to call your own mom and tell her you love her too. She’s important, DO NOT FORGET. 

I recognize that I don’t speak for all moms, but for all moms who are on the same page as me…all we want is one dang day. 

Tomorrow, it’s back to business as usual. 

Happy Mother’s Day! Now leave me the hell alone. 




The post It’s Mother’s Day, So Leave Me The Hell Alone appeared first on TodaysMama.

3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now

Mother’s Day is the perfect time to make a point to get in the family photos. Here are 3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now, along with inspiration from our latest Mother’s Day photo shoot.

Mother’s Day is the perfect time to make a point to get in the family photos. Here are 3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now, along with inspiration from our latest Mother’s Day photo shoot. Photography Session with Sue Bryce. #mothersday #photography #livinglocurto

You might think this article is just about a Mother’s Day photo shoot with my daughter, but I want to make it clear that this is much more important than pretty photos.

What I am writing today is a powerful reminder for you… yes, I’m talking to you!

Last week marked the two-year anniversary of my mother’s death. This weekend, we found out that my husband’s mother died unexpectedly. Now both of our moms are gone, and many years before we expected to lose them. A few days before finding out about my mother-in-law’s passing, I received these beautiful photos from our Mother’s Day photo shoot with the amazing Sue Bryce.

Here are 3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now, along with inspiration from our latest Mother’s Day photo shoot. Photos by Sue Bryce

I thought out of respect for the recent death in our family, I would not share my Mother’s Day photos right away.  But, then I thought about you and the other women reading this. I decided to share my story and photos in hopes that you would be inspired to get IN THE PHOTOS with your kids, your mother, father or other family members who are dear to you. I know my mother-in-law would approve of this message. So here I am writing to let you know that YOU are beautiful, no matter what size of clothes you wear, how old you are, or if your teeth are crooked or straight.

This message is important for you to hear. I hope you keep reading…

3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now


1. It’s The Best Gift You Can Give

3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now, along with inspiration from our latest Mother’s Day photo shoot. Amy Locurto and daughter. Photos by Sue Bryce

With Mother’s Day coming up soon, I encourage you to get in the photos with your kids. Give your kids the gift of you! Please listen to someone who has had both of her parents and in-laws die at a young age. Photos are an important part of your children’s memories. Without them, it’s often hard to conjure up memories. Isn’t it crazy how as soon as you look at a photo, memories come flooding back? Getting beautiful photos taken of yourself is not silly, it’s not vain, its not a waste of money. It’s a cherished memory captured forever. It’s important.

My daughter and I will NEVER forget our trip to California for these photos. It was worth every penny to have this special time with my little girl. You can bet I’m going to be nagging my teenage son to take photos with me soon. (I can picture him running away right now. ha!)  No worries with this one, she RUNS to the camera!


2. Someday You Will Wish You Did It Sooner


3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now! Inspiration from a Mother’s Day photo shoot. Amy Locurto and daughter. Photos by Sue Bryce

I always tell people, 10 years from now you will look back at photos of yourself and wish you looked that young, that skinny or that healthy again!  I hope by sharing my Mother’s Day photos today that you will be inspired to get in a photo and not worry so much about your appearance. I bet you look pretty darn good!

3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now! Inspiration from a Mother’s Day photo shoot. Amy Locurto and daughter. Photos by Sue Bryce

My mom was a gorgeous woman, yet she never wanted to be in our photos. I wish I had more photos of us together now! No matter how much I might dread photos, I make a point to get in them with my kids as much as possible. I may not be happy with the way I look, wish I was skinner, younger, etc, but my kids don’t care, they love me for who I am.


3. A Good Photographer Can Perform Miracles


3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now! Inspiration from a Mother’s Day photo shoot. Amy Locurto and daughter. Photos by Sue Bryce

This is no joke! A good photographer knows how to pose you to look your best, and will use lighting that performs miracles! I’m glad I didn’t put this off to lose a certain amount of weight, I just got in the photos and trusted that the photographer would make me look amazing! When you have photos taken by the fabulous Sue Bryce, that is a no brainer! Seriously, if you have a great photographer, plus hair and make-up, you will feel like a princess.

I want to walk around in this pose all day with someone holding lights and a fan on me, because I do NOT look like this in person. LOL!!! Miracles I tell ya!

3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now! Inspiration from a Mother’s Day photo shoot with Lifestyle and Food blogger, Amy Locurto and daughter. Photos by Sue Bryce

Don’t wait to book a photo session with a photographer, because some have very long wait lists. Find someone who can help you with your hair and make-up if you aren’t sure what to do. You deserve to feel like a queen for a day! Remember you are giving this gift to your children. They will cherish photos of you long into their old age and be happy to pass them down to generations. Make time for this… it’s important, just like you.

Thank you Sue, Gerson and the Sue Bryce team for giving us these memories to frame and cherish forever!

3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now! Sue Bryce, Amy Locurto and daughter.

Please Share Your Photos!

If you take photos with your kids, please share them with me! I’d love to see!!

Here are four ways to share your photos:

  1. Use the hashtag #LivingLocurto on Instagram
  2. Share on my Living Locurto Facebook Page
  3. Share in our Private Facebook Group
  4. Send photos via e-mail, sign up for my emails here if you don’t already get them.

Our Moms

Here are photos of my mom, Virginia and my husband’s mom, Carol dancing at our wedding. May you both be dancing, smiling and taking lots of photos now in heaven. We miss you both so much!

The post 3 Reasons Why You Need to Be In Photos Now appeared first on Living Locurto.

An Open Letter To My Struggling Mom Friend On Mother’s Day

To my mom friend:

I see you.

Today is Mother’s Day. Likely someone is already preparing you breakfast. Maybe they’ll even deliver it to your room so that you can nosh while still luxuriating in bed. They might bring you flowers or jewelry. Macaroni and construction paper greetings almost certainly wait for you downstairs. All of those things are wonderful, yes. But they won’t leave you feeling any better at the end of your special day.

I know what you really desire. I will wrap it in this letter so that you may look upon it time and time again, your need to do so almost a certainty. You want someone, anyone, to see what you’re dealing with. How hard it is. You, the strong matriarch, are ready for someone to swoop in and take every available opportunity to make it all better, if even only for a day.

I see you. If no one else does, know that I see you. I can tell you haven’t felt that lately.

We, as women, are taught to make it all look easy, to do what is expected of us with little or no complaint. Meanwhile, our partners are often taught to take things at face value. That makes for an inevitable disconnect, no matter how hard we strive to keep our relationship expectations reasonable. And while motherhood is a gift, there’s the curse that our partners will never fully understand how this mom shit really feels.

A gift. That’s the line we’re supposed to parrot, right? Some days, I know, you want nothing more than to return that gift. Good luck cramming a 4-year-old back in your lady bits, though.

Maybe your partner is the problem this week. You’re so tired, so bone-crushingly tired, and all you want in the world is a nap. So much so that without you really intending to, your body just decided to take one in the middle of a rare day where your partner was home too. And rather than recognizing how desperately you needed that break, that rest, that moment of peaceful silence, your partner was resentful of being left alone with all the work on their “day off.”

I see the disparity between your role and theirs. They show up to a karate lesson and everyone swoons at their level of involvement. Meanwhile, you make one disparaging remark about craving a moment of silence and a cold beer after having spent fifty-two consecutive hours catching vomit between loads of laundry and you’re a bad mother. But I see your brow crinkled with worry. I see how you welcome your feverish child into your bed, knowing full well it will mean yet another set of sheets to launder. And I see you slide over, your arm dangling over the edge so that your partner’s sleeping space need not be sacrificed.

Maybe your parents are the ones causing the frustration lately. Maybe your mother never tires of making snide comments and questioning all your parenting decisions. Perhaps your father continues to show no interest in you or your child. I see your fear, but you are not your parents. You are more. You are better.

Sometimes the urge to hit nearly overpowers you. The rage shakes your joints and lifts your open hand. But you don’t. You never have. You never will. Of course you fear it, but I see the nurtured calm that stays your impulse every time.

It’s okay to hate moments of this mom experience. It’s even okay to occasionally hate your kid. Hate and love can coexist. You know that from dealing with your own mother. But you…you are using that understanding to feed your child’s strength. When your child can pause between rages to scream, “Mom, I love you so much but right now I am very, very mad at you,” you are teaching her to be more too.

I see your shoulders hunched under the pressure of shaping a kind, generous, brave little person. But you must remember, you’re going to fuck up. Over and over again. And your child will see those mistakes. Don’t try to hide them. Teach them. Announce your mistakes and use them to be better. Show your sweet girl how she, too, can grow from her mistakes.

You’re making a mistake right now. Yes, you’re faltering, but that’s not it. You’re berating yourself. Again and again. But here’s the thing you can’t see because you are too close. Your vision is clouded by exhaustion, resentment, and your relationship with your own mother. But I can see it. You and your child already share a bond that your partner can never replicate. You, dear woman, are that child’s truth.

I see you beam with pride as you say, “My kid is amazing.” She is, you know. She truly is. And deep down, you know you did that. I see you in her smile. I see you as she gently picks up the Lego pieces knocked from the table and tries to piece them back together. I see you when she runs to find a Band-Aid for my cut finger. I see you when she offers me her last animal cracker. I see you when she radiates satisfaction dropping in the final piece of a puzzle.

I see what you’re doing. I see how you’re struggling. I see how you keep going anyway. I see how invested you are. I see how consumed you are with making her strong, and resilient, and forgiving, and all the things you want to be. And I see how that leaves so very little for you. And I tell you that you are doing fine. Great. Not just your personal best, but enough by anyone’s standards. Most importantly, enough by her standards.

So sweet friend and fellow mom, my Mother’s Day wish for you is simple: May you have the clarity to see yourself as I see you — enough. And may you fall into a contented sleep safe in that knowledge.

Copyright 2016 Elly Lonon as first published on Sammiches and Psych Meds.

To The Single Mom On Mother’s Day

Dear Single Mom,

I have been thinking of you all week long. As the days grew closer, I couldn’t help but remember you.

Mother’s Day is a mixed day for you, I know. I was a single mom for almost five years. My sister was for seven, and my mother has been a single mom for almost the entirety of her four children’s lives.

Mother’s Day is an awkward holiday for the single mom.

Without a husband, without a dad, who will pamper you, encourage your children to let you sleep in, make you breakfast, and shower you with gifts?

It’s unfair. You deserve these things as much as any other mom.

There may also a part of you that feels bad for your child on Mother’s Day. You wish they had someone to help them with the elaborate gift they dream of giving you. You worry that your sons might grow up not really knowing how to care for their wives, or that your daughters won’t know how to accept their husbands’ care.

It hurts to feel sadness and guilt on a day that is supposed to be about celebrating you.

Maybe you feel angry, wounded, left-out, not enough.

Maybe you have a great “support system” and love them dearly. But at the end of the day, after the barbecue they invited you to has ended, as grateful as you are, you still go home to it being all on you.

Maybe you are like my mom, and have gone a few Mother’s Days without your children really being old enough to remember to do anything anyway. The day passes, year after year, just like any other.

Shawna Wingert

To those of you who are single moms, this is what I want you to know about Mother’s Day.

The most difficult part about being a single mom for me was the intense pressure of responsibility. It was all on me — providing, nurturing, caring for, teaching, disciplining — it felt like there was no safe place to just be.

Being a single mom can be crushing.

So for Mother’s Day this year, I want to gently, lovingly say, you are not alone.

Even if you have absolutely no help.

Even if you have been a widow since your child was a baby.

Even if your children’s father left you without any involvement on his part.

You are not alone.

Shawna Wingert

For Mother’s Day this year, I hope you get some rest.

I hope you get a sweet handmade card or craft from school.

I hope the people who love you see you and shower you with attention.

I hope your children give you an extra hug, sweet snuggles, and plenty of smiles.

I hope you splurge a little and see a movie or get a manicure. Bring the kids. The other ladies at the salon will understand, and even if they don’t, that’s on them — it is Mother’s Day after all. If nothing else, serve the meals you like (no chicken fingers) and bake your own cake. Let the kids decorate it  (but trust me, don’t leave them alone with the sprinkles).

And even if none of this happens, I hope that deep down, you would hear me, would believe me when I say:

You are a momma. You are so very special and important and powerful.

I am celebrating you this weekend.

There is no one like you in your child’s life. You can do this. You will do this.

Happy Mother’s Day.

A Message For The Motherless On Mother’s Day

I attended my first funeral in over a decade this year. Despite the summer humidity and sudden downpour at the cemetery, the scene was familiar. Fifteen years prior, on a grim February afternoon, I stood in this same spot, with boots sinking into the wet muck and hands grasped with those of my mother and grandmother — a sad line of red rover for the grandfather who had crossed over. On this August day however, it was her turn, my grandmother, to join her other half and leave me standing with one free hand. And now we were two, my mother and I, and the grip became fiercer, a sweaty-palmed promise to carry each other through this and the months and years to follow.

And now Mother’s Day is upon us and the weather has warmed. My kids have already begun the school projects that will lead to handprints and lace-papered hearts and Crayola sunflowers with their faces smiling from the center. All the while, my own mother faces the holiday for the first time in her life as one of the motherless, as one who has known that love and lost it and must now remember. So I write to her and to all the mothers who will be grasping for that hand to hold.

To mothers of the young:

I know you will find pictures on your phone, on your fridge, on your Facebook timeline that will bring you face-to-face with the one you miss. I know you will wake up tired but smile on this May day when your children bring you burnt pancakes in bed. I know you will praise whatever gift they give you, handmade, store-bought, or tackle hugs. I know you will kiss their heads and smell their kid smells — the sweet sweat, and warm breaths, and baby shampoo. I know you will help them dress and issue reminders of please and thank you when you have your celebratory meal. I know you will mother them as you always do even as your heart contracts with the need to be mothered too.

I know you will not let them see all the tears you want to shed at the thought of the woman who went before you. I know you will have snippets of conversation with her in your head as you walk through the moments of this day, more momentous somehow in the echo of her absence.

I know you will step away at some point, take those fast and shallow breaths that precede tears and then cry like the kid you wish you still were. It’s okay. We all need to cry like that sometimes. Kids know how to do it right, with the snot and hiccups and red face that leaves you wrung out, but cleansed.

And then I know you will smile again for the little hands who come to check on you. I know you will end this day the same way it began, the same way they all begin and end — with kisses and pajamas and warm bodies to soothe. I hope you too will be soothed. I hope the caresses and bedtime songs will also work in reverse, loosening your limbs and mind and heart in nighttime meditation so that you can let this day pass with both its joy and sting.

To the mothers of the mothers,

I know you will find pictures in your attic, in your albums, in your bedside table that you will hold a little longer, tracing the outlines of a life you wish you could rewind. I know you will want to call your children, but will wait until they call you — until their breakfasts in bed and homemade cards and morning snuggles have all been done, because that’s how you mother now, with patience and understanding of the ceremonies that you too performed so long ago.

I know you will smile through the phone while your children try to talk over the sounds of the laughter or fighting or tears on their end. I know you will be happy for their happiness. I also know the silence will ring louder when the conversation ends, when the phone returns to its cradle, when the memories fall backward even as life and the day move forward.

I know you will also talk to her, your mother, and tell her all the things you would have said if you could have made that same call today. I know, as the day proceeds that you will play each role, the mother, the grandmother — and yes, the kid who misses her mother. It’s okay. You can be her too. And when night comes, I hope you will let it pass with a nod to the many Mother’s Days that have gone before and the ones to come.

To all the mothers on this day who are living that juxtaposed life of motherless mother, I want you to know that you are not alone and you do not have to fill just one role. You can cry like a kid. You can miss the hand you no longer hold even while you hold the hands of children young or old. You can be the woman in the line of red rover crying out to the other side even as you stand on this one because Mother’s Day is a day of honor and honor is about both celebration and remembrance.

Don’t Forget About The ‘Secret Moms’ This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day isn’t all roses and breakfasts in bed. It can be an in-your-face reminder for Secret Moms of all that they have lost. Secret Moms are those women who have said goodbye to a baby, yet are mothers nonetheless.

A Secret Mom still carried her child, rocked it in the womb, sang lullabies, told stories in the direction of her growing abdomen, and loved the baby within her in the most sacred of ways. That love of a mother for her child is an unabashed flame, burning brightly, radiating its light and warmth in every direction.

That love lives on, even in the face of loss. Even in the face of early and ravaging cramps and the bleeding. Even in the face of the inner-knowledge that something is terribly wrong. Even in the face of doctors’ facts and nurses’ compassion. The statistics proving no comfort. Even in the face of natural order thrown violently out of order. Still, the Secret Mother’s love burns on. It cannot be extinguished — or silenced.

The room my son Zachary was born into was as quiet as death. He emerged that October day without the newborn cry. He never opened his eyes. His life was counted in gestational weeks, not in candles on a birthday cake. That was the moment I went from naïve to wise. I knew the world differently after that day. After that one silent day, but for the pitter-patter of the thousands of tears I shed on the dampened floor around my hospital bed. A floor my son would never step on. His feet forever virgin to this earth.

Now I know the world of Secret Moms. I call them sisters. As we share our stories, we look each other in the eyes. The bond is immediate. Soulful. As deep as the ocean. Because no one else can fully know those depths of sorrow without having loved and having had to say goodbye within one breath of hello. It is a bond as intimate as family.

Everyone’s loss is unique. As is their grief. As is their healing.

For me, blessed with living children, I kiss them longer, hug them tighter, pray for them more fervently, check on them more frequently in the night, save all their drawings in mountainous piles — all because I know. I know the ache of the Secret Motherhood. People cannot count what they do not see. They look at me and see three. Three blonde children with my smile and my husband’s eyes. But there is a secret one for whom my heart is still ablaze with love.

Yes, Mother’s Day can be a trigger, a date on the calendar that elicits all kinds of longings that can never be fulfilled. The day interrupts routine, begging for pause. A day to take stock of what it means to bring a child into this world. To account for the many gifts of mothering. There are the visible things, such as stretch marks and photo albums of family vacations. The boxes of old clothes and envelopes of baby teeth and tufts of hair from the first cut.

And then there are the invisible things. Mother’s Day is a chance to slow down and marvel at the wonder of life and how we didn’t know our hearts could contain this much love. Love for little beings that only take, yet we never tire of giving. And we need nothing in return. These are beautiful things, yes, and yet their absence is a sting for Secret Moms, enduring these Mother’s Day reminders.

To every Secret Mom: This is still your day. Your day to step out of the silence and be heard, your children counted among the little ones loved. Yes, the greeting cards, billboards, commercials, radio jingles do not understand. Your pain is not marketable. Thank goodness for that. Today, Mother’s Day, is not about counting anyway or having to justify who you are. Mother. Is the love there? Yes! Is the heat of it keeping your memories alive? Yes! Is its light illuminating all that really matters? Yes! Then those things trump all the rest.

I celebrate you. I celebrate your child — or children — who have died. We are sisters, mothers, friends, fellow sojourners on this expedition through grief and healing and every moment of this “new normal” as it’s so aptly called. And today, claim it. It is ours. Today is our day.

Stop Whatever You Are Doing Right Now, Pick Up The Phone, And Call Your Mama

Hey you. Yes, you. Call your mother. Today, not tomorrow. Don’t wait for her birthday. Or next Tuesday. Or once a week on Saturday. Or tonight. Call her now. Don’t wait around for Mother’s Day.

Put her first today. Today, put her first.

Believe me, she doesn’t expect it. At all. She never expects it. And she’s thinking about you at this very moment.
She’s wondering what you’re doing. And how you’re doing.

She’s wondering if you are indeed being careful. With yourself. With others. With your body. With your head and your heart.  She’s remembering a few times when you weren’t. And she shudders. Just now, while coupling your father’s socks, she thought of you bungee-jumping off a bridge when you were studying abroad. She had goosebumps and she closed her eyes for a moment. Her brow furrowed, and she pursed her lips. She shook her head quickly to rid herself of the thought.

She’s wondering if you know how to love and be loved. She’s hoping that you are being a giver. And that you are minding your manners. And that you are being kind.

She’s wondering how you are doing at work. And if you are stressed out about money. “Honey, do you need money?” She’s thinking you could probably use some undershirts. Yes, she still thinks this way. Go ahead and roll your eyes.

She’s curious if anything she ever said or did really sticks with you. If you can hear her voice sometimes, in much the same way that she can still hear your little voice, the voice you had when you were in kindergarten, and of course, with this thought comes the one where she remembers herself younger.

Because so long ago, she was a young mother. Now that you’re older, and as you go about your life, doing all the things you do, she still wonders. She still wants for you, all the things in life that will make your heart happy.

So tell her you love her. Call her now and tell her. Let those sweet words roll off your tongue. When  she earnestly starts to ask all her questions, stop her. Just stop her cold. Tell her, “No, Mom.” Tell her to just hush for a minute.

Because this phone call is about her, not you. Because you called to check on her. To ask her how she’s doing. And what she’s doing. And you called because you are wondering if her heart is happy. And she’ll say, “Of course, dear, why wouldn’t it be?” because she never wants you to worry.

This time, you called to listen. To listen to her the way she always listens to you. To cradle her with your attention, the way she cradles you. To cheer for her the way she always cheers for you.

You called to tell her that you do, you do hear her voice in your head. It’s that soft voice filled with love and encouragement and caution and hope. It’s that voice that will always be there, attached to you. You called to let her know that sometimes, every so often, it’s the one voice you hear. The one that rings clear.

You called to ask her for her opinion. Her opinion about the world. She’ll catch her breath and smile for the rest of the day because her heart will flutter. She’s actually quite smart, your mother. Her life is interesting, too, you know.

Just ask her. Your questions fill her heart. Your questions will restore her spirit in ways you may never understand. Your questions are so much better than a card or a gift. Or the obligatory phone call, on a day like Mother’s Day, from you.

Why? Because she’s your mother every day. But she’s a person too.

To The Mothers Who Raised Us Who Defy All Greeting Card Logic

As modern mothers, I think we’re too hard on ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t raised by the Best Mother in the World. In fact, I was raised by the Okayest Mother on the Planet who straight up did not give AF. The kind of mother who defies all greeting card logic.

Last Christmas, my mother turned to my sister and me, and said, “I raised two strong, independent women, and I don’t know how that happened because it wasn’t my intention.”

We know, Mom, oh how we know.

But this does not mean my mother doesn’t expect a rolled-out red carpet on Mother’s Day despite her general status as a boiling hot mess. Oh no, she does. And because of my mother, I think it’s worth it to look back on all the okayest mothers who raised us and feel better about our choices. God knows we need the self-esteem boost.

You don’t chain-smoke.

When was the last time you looked around your house and thought I’ve really nailed the dive bar vibe with all this smoking. Never? Well, good for you because it means you probably don’t chain-smoke in front of your kids, in your house, or generally smoke at all. All that sugar your kids eat? Doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

You only use kitchen utensils for their intended purpose.

The “Wooden Spoon” was seriously the fifth member of our family. Sure, I was clever and would pre-emptively hide it, but I can almost guarantee your children do not know the pleasure of the dual purpose of kitchen utensils. When I say, “wooden spoon,” my daughter thinks chocolate chip cookies, not duck and cover.

You actually use car seats.

Freshly divorced, my mother took me on a vacation to the Jersey shore with her new boyfriend who drove a two-seat Datsun. Funny thing about Datsuns, the engine is in the back, under the hatchback — which is exactly the place my mother stuck me for safe keeping on the two-hour drive back home when I was 10. So those front-facing weight guidelines about car seats until our kids are teens? We welcome them.

You’re more Whole Foods than Hamburger Helper.

When I was 9, my mother put me on a SlimFast diet. The problem wasn’t my girth, it was that I was short. Still am. Regardless, my mother feared a lifetime of bullying over my chub and created a new meal plan consisting of unpronounceable chemicals masquerading as chocolate milk. And we’re sweating breast or formula?

You can’t imagine peacing out on your kids.

I barely got the words, “I’m pregnant” out before my mother hightailed it out of Pennsylvania to New Jersey. Nothing says, “I’m here for you” like fleeing the scene. She swears it was bad timing. I’ve let it go. Attachment parents our okayest mothers are not.

You have a squad or at the very least a therapist for moments like these.

There was a time in my life as a young mother when I was so deeply depressed that my mother was concerned about my well-being. You know, just enough to drive two hours and hand me a bottle of her own antidepressants, and then leave. Hug your kids a little tighter, right now.

That time I called my mother “The Okayest Mom on the Planet” and all she saw was glory.

Otherwise I’d be in some deep shit.

We can either look at the choices we make as mistakes or as the best decision with the information we have at the time. My mother tried, and she did it with flair — there isn’t a door she hasn’t walked through without blowing it off first. Without her, my life would be a straight-to-DVD flick for you to bypass during a Netflix scroll-a-thon.

There isn’t a story my mother doesn’t make better, a bad decision she hasn’t made worse, or a mother with the best of intentions who fucked it all up along the way. I stand in the shadow of an original, just taking notes.

May all of us strive not for the Best Mom award, but the okayest-seeking glory.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Your card is in the mail.

The Sexist Trend To Demonize Mother’s Day Is Complete BS

Every year at this time, blog posts and news reports appear begging mothers to consider all the people for whom Mother’s Day might not be a pleasant holiday. The growing trend is to request that mothers yield the day to those who have experienced loss.

I have been a motherless child. I spent over two decades estranged from my mother who passed away just a few years after we reunited. I have also been a childless woman, desperate to enter motherhood. I spent years struggling with infertility and awaiting adoption. I understand how painful it can be around Mother’s Day to have images that evoke personal loss punctuate one’s time and space.

At the same time, I can’t ignore the troubling suspicion I have that many of the criticisms and calls for consideration that typically crop up around Mother’s Day might just be thinly veiled manifestations of sexism.

Consider the following:

1. Mothers in the U.S. are a marginalized population.

It might not seem this way to people without children, who are tired of our double-strollers crowding sidewalks and our whining children disturbing their nights out (or to at least one woman who thinks that maternity leave should be available to women without children). However, U.S. mothers are regularly mommy-tracked in our careers.

Unlike much of the world’s mothers and despite many of us requiring, at minimum, physical recovery time, we are not guaranteed pay for maternity leave. Childcare is often prohibitively expensive for U.S. families, typically leading to one parent staying home. Since, on average, women are paid less than our male counterparts for the same jobs, it usually falls on women to sacrifice our careers if necessary to care for our children.

2. Father’s Day, the male equivalent to Mother’s Day, does not receive the same level of scrutiny and criticism.

My Facebook feed isn’t filled each Father’s Day with calls to be more considerate of fatherless children and men who struggle with child loss. Father’s Day even holds the distinction of having been created largely so that fathers would feel included in celebrations of parenthood.

3. A day meant to celebrate women is the one secular holiday that Americans seem to want to micromanage.

There are various annual secular holidays besides Father’s Day that celebrate a particular faction of people to the exclusion of others without the scrutiny held over Mother’s Day. When Veterans Day rolls around, those of us who are neither veterans nor closely connected with veterans step aside to allow the beneficiaries of the day to hold their spotlight. We even line up to participate in parades where we cheer on people we might not even know.

Likewise, Valentine’s Day is typically considered for lovers, the crux of Halloween for children. Though we should never force pointed holidays onto those who don’t celebrate them, we can and do allow specific groups of people their special days.

4. The U.S. calendar is filled with non-holiday events and experiences that provide opportunities for some to the exclusion of others.

As long as exclusivity is not borne out of bigotry, hatred, or support for inequality, this can be okay, even necessary. Non-runners, including those of us unable to run due to disabilities, typically do not begrudge runners their races, even though they close our roads and clog our neighborhood coffee shops several times a year. Adults don’t ask children to enjoy their school breaks less because we don’t receive the same amount of time off. We don’t request that college students avoid expressing their pride on social media about scholarships or other accolades they receive as academics, even though non-students don’t receive scholarships for general living. Everybody can’t be a part of everything, nor should we expect total inclusion.

5. More than any other group of people, it seems, mothers are constantly told how we are supposed to carry out our roles.

We are given conflicting advice, backed by convincing, but also conflicting, science regularly. We are pandered to by corporations that want our money, criticized and prosecuted by legislators who want to control us, simultaneously demonized and deified by the media. Now we are being told to be careful about how we celebrate Mother’s Day because people who are not mothers, or who don’t have healthy relationships with their mothers or motherhood, might feel excluded. To be tossed into yet one more battle that divides and belittles us, a battle that few else are asked to enter with regards to secular holidays, feels like another way to control women in general, mothers specifically.

Mother’s Day holds its roots in feminism. Early incarnations included ancient Greco-Roman celebrations of the mother goddesses and a day for mothers of opposing sides during the Civil War to reconcile. The more formal holiday grew out of feminist calls to action, the most renowned being Julia Ward Howe’s late 19th century request for mothers to unite for world peace.

Within a contemporary feminist context, Mother’s Day affords us one day a year when we can hope for a neutral zone, when mothers can support and celebrate one another, despite our culture’s insistence upon marginalizing and dividing us. It also offers families who choose to celebrate the day together a formal pause in family chaos to reflect upon mother-child relationships.

The concept of motherhood can be an emotionally loaded challenge for many people. I understand and have been there. I also believe that we can honor the losses surrounding mothers and motherhood within our culture while also creating space on Mother’s Day for mothers and families of every incarnation to choose to celebrate motherhood as desired — without fear of repercussion, guilt, and division.