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May 6, 2022


We wrap up this year’s Mother’s Day Author Blog series with Sarah McCoy, whose latest novel, MUSTIQUE ISLAND, releases on May 10th. It’s a sun-splashed romp with a rich divorcee and her two wayward daughters in 1970s Mustique, the world’s most exclusive private island, where Princess Margaret and Mick Jagger were regulars and scandals stayed hidden from the press. In our final Mother’s Day blog post of 2022, Sarah reflects on the Mother’s Day celebrations she enjoyed with her mom growing up and what made them so unique. As an adult, Sarah recognizes how important it is to honor everything that her mother has been --- a daughter, a sister, a girl with big dreams, a conscientious student, a best friend, a competitive athlete, a teacher…and, of course, a loving parent.


Mother’s Day has always been a multifaceted weekend. It’s a celebration of mothers, yes, but it usually falls on or around my mother’s actual birthday. The two are historically fused.

As a 40-year career schoolteacher, my mom was the first person to put a book in my hand: THE WILD AND WOOLLY ANIMAL BOOK, she tells me, and she still has it! (She sent along a photo as proof.) And she’s been encouraging me to write since I could hold a crayon. Incorrectly, against my fourth ring finger, which she’s still hoping I’ll change.

I was the firstborn of a military family. We didn’t have a lot of extra cash growing up. Certainly no allowance for kids. Asking my mom for her own pocketbook money to buy her a gift was inconceivable. Besides, she emphasized that the best gifts came out of us, not out of Kmart. So I grew up writing her love letter booklets, using all my favorite sing-songy adjectives, convinced that they rivaled Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Having her birthday and Mother’s Day on the same weekend made gift giving a cinch. One stone, two birds. One “Happy Mother’s BirthDay!” card, one bouquet of wildflowers, one carrot cake that we devoured after church on Sunday. Sometimes we remembered birthday candles. Sometimes we didn’t. As a child, I didn’t really think about it --- it was cake; we were celebrating!

She only ever spoke words of gratitude to her husband and three children. The memories of those May days are soft and warm with momma love.

It wasn’t until I got older that I realized my mom hadn’t the exact carefree memories that I had. She finally spoke up: “Everybody else gets two separate holidays, but I get one lump sum.” It wasn’t a complaint. More of a statement of fact. But it made me stop and look at it from her point of view, not my own.

She hadn’t always been a mother, and yet the commemoration of her arrival into existence had been dovetailed into motherhood. Now in my 40s, I see how that could make a person feel…one-dimensional and somewhat underappreciated. Because before she was my mother, she was a daughter, a sister, a girl with big dreams, a student striving to be top of the class, a best friend, a competitive athlete, a lover, a teacher. She was so many things that deserve celebration.

Yes, being a mother is one of those celebratory feats, and a very significant one. But when did we, women, start believing that we only get one blank as our definition? I.e. I am a ________.  It’s a question I ask myself every day and a question that works its way into my novels, particularly my latest, MUSTIQUE ISLAND. In it, there are women of various generations and cultural backgrounds who ask: What does it mean to be a woman/partner/mother, and what part of that meaning is boxed within social parameters? If we were free of all preset definitions, how would we each choose to define ourselves?

So now I send my mom a birthday card and a separate Mother’s Day card. I take my time to honor each of those as two separate triumphs. I honor herstory as a woman born into an era where she was taught that adhering to conventions made you worthy and good. And then I honor that she dared to break those conventions in raising a free-spirited daughter. I celebrate the moxie and love of this woman, and I celebrate that I get to call her mother. The privilege is mine.