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Erica J. Simmons

Source: Erica J. Simmons / Erica J. Simmons

Happy Mother’s Day! This Hallmark Greeting conjures so many different emotions for me. First, being as analytical as I am, I place the apostrophe after the “s” because it’s a day to celebrate all mothers, not just me. I’m a daughter, granddaughter, and also mother. This day has never been just about me, yet I cherish the day that I, too, became a mother.  

From the beginning, motherhood was not easy.  As much as I always wanted to be a mom, what I remember most about that time after my oldest son’s birth was fighting with my mom—not wanting her around telling me how to be a mom. I wanted to do it on my own.

I needed her, but I didn’t want her. I didn’t know that it was post-partum depression speaking. I remember being hypervigilant and wanting to do everything perfectly. I remember the migraine headache caused by my fluctuating hormones, which made me fear that I would die. I also remember how my sons would hold my finger while nursing at my breast, their soft skin and that oh so sweet “baby smell.” I still have the rocking chair that I spent so many hours reading to my boys. Twenty-five years later, it still holds a special place in my heart and my home. 

What a gift it was to share quite a few Mothers’ Days with my mom, one of my grandmothers, and both of my sisters. Motherhood is its own sisterhood. I truly believe my relationships with my sisters deepened when we all became mothers. It was completely unexpected, just something I noticed. In our shared experiences with our mom and grandmother, along with our individual styles of mothering, we pass on the traditions and love that we hold dear in our family to the next generation.  

We expect our mothers and grandmothers to die before we do. It’s the natural cycle of life. One day, before we are ready, we find ourselves caught in that paradox of mourning those who have gone before us while also celebrating our own motherhood and anticipating the joys of grandmotherhood. 

As the divorced mom of two Black sons, my parenting journey has not been easy. There were several years when I celebrated both Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day. I felt that since I was parenting my sons without their father’s help, I had a right to celebrate Fathers’ Day. I’ve heard many other single moms express this same sentiment. 

But I’ve changed my stance on that in recent years. I’m their mother. Period. While I may bear the responsibility for raising them on my own, I’m still not their father. Nor will I ever be. I had to let go of that cynicism and embrace my role as “Supermom” instead! Just kidding. We don’t have to be supermoms, either. What our children need is for us to be authentically ourselves, loving them and supporting them to the best of our ability. It is enough. We are enough.  

Reflecting on my own experiences as a mother raising Black boys into men, I wrote “A Single Mom’s Guide to Raising Black (Gentle)Men.” I wanted to provide a resource and support for other moms. This is the book I wish I had when my sons were younger.

A woman’s ability to carry a child in her womb until that child can sustain life outside her body is something to celebrate! Yes, there is a science to explain it, yet I also consider it miraculous. Ask any woman who longs to give birth to a baby of her own yet hasn’t experienced the joy for whatever reason there may be. She will tell you that I’m right. To give life to another human being is indeed a miracle.  

When a woman chooses to raise a child, sacrificing and loving much through the joy and pain of motherhood, she is worthy of love and respect. Ask any child who has been chosen and adopted, and I feel certain that child will tell you there is no greater gift. Whether a child has one or two moms or one or two dads, the goal should be to raise our children with love and confidence to navigate all that life offers them. 

So, while giving birth or choosing to raise a child is what makes us mothers, I believe it is in raising our children with love that we earn the right to be called a mom. That knowledge helps me enjoy my Mothers’ Day while also honoring the memory of my mom and all she did for my sisters and me.  

Sanya Simmons is a voice actor and the author of “A Single Mom’s Guide to Raising Black (Gentle)Men.” Follow her on Facebook: iamsanyasimmons and Instagram: @iamsanyasimmons 


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OP-ED: The Joys Of Motherhood, Raising Black Boys  was originally published on