To the motherless mother on Mother’s Day…
I see you. I know this week is hard. I know simultaneously you dread and you look forward this holiday. You look forward to (hopefully) being celebrated by your own kids, but there’s a dreaded hole, a pain, and a sting you just can’t shake. It’s the first, or the second, or the 14th, or the 32nd Mother’s Day without your own mom and it hurts. Whether you are motherless because of death or whether it’s because of a broken relationship, the pain is very real.
For the first few years after my own mom’s death, I hated Mother’s Day with a passion. I would basically pretend as though the day didn’t exist. I hated the commercials, the displays in stores, and the constant visual reminders that I was without a mother to celebrate. It might seem silly and it might seem irrational, but grief is weird like that.
I’d just fall into this funk as the day got closer and closer and I couldn’t snap out of it until it was all said and done. Then it was just a matter of time till another painful reminder came around.
Day to day, I’d be okay. Day to day, I’d think of her, and I’d smile. The day to day was easy-ish. But there was something about Mother’s Day that just hurt. It wasn’t joyous for me. Sure, the years would go by, and I would learn how to better cope, but it didn’t necessarily get easier.
From the moment my first daughter was born, I understood what a mother’s love meant. To look at something so tiny, and yet feel so completely overwhelmed with love. I felt this all-consuming wave of emotion come over me and I knew that from that moment, I would do whatever I could to love, nurture, protect, and raise this sweet baby. For the first time, I understood what my own mom must have felt like when I was born.
Suddenly though, I felt this tinge of regret. I regretted all the times I mouthed off to my mom. I regretted not asking her more questions, not spending more time with her, or the times when I thought my mom was “so not cool” because I was a teenager and totally selfish. I regretted not telling her I loved her more. (Of course I told her I loved her, but I should have said it more.) I regretted not asking her about her pregnancy with me – what she ate, what she didn’t, what she felt. I regretted not asking her more about the early years with me as a baby, then a toddler, a young kid, and a teen.
And as my daughter has started growing up, and after the birth of my son, and as I got deeper into this parenting thing, I felt more pain of regret. I regret never apologizing to my mom for being the age of 3 or having a blowout diaper or keeping her up all hours of the night or being indecisive or having her make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich only to decide I no longer want that but I want turkey instead.
Becoming a mother just made me miss my own mother more… but in a completely different, new, and almost uncomfortable way. It’s something that’s hard to articulate, but it’s so very real to me.
There are days that I just wish I could pick up the phone and call my mom to vent, or to cry, or to tell her a story about the cute thing my kid just did, or get her advice, or just hear her voice. There are times where no matter what book I read or friend I speak with or show I watch, nothing replaces the wisdom and comfort a mother brings.
I think about the fact that I will never get to see my mom as a grandmother, or a mother-in-law… oh, how I would love to see her and my husband sit on the couch and talk so she could know how awesome he is. The only pictures of my mom and my kids together are in my mind’s eye… And no matter what anyone says, it’s not the same.
I love my kids. So much. I love being their mom. And Mother’s Day means so much more to me now. In fact, dare I say I like this holiday now because being a mom is the best and hardest and most rewarding and most challenging and most exhilarating and most exhausting job in the world. And I think there should be a day that honors moms and all that moms do. So on Sunday, when it’s Mother’s Day, I will go to church, maybe get brunch, hopefully grab a nap… I’ll open a present made by my kids that’s probably a necklace made of dry pasta or a paper plate with crayon scribbled on it and it will be adorable and sentimental and all those things.
But I will also miss my mom that day. I will think about her and wish I was spending the day with her, too.
It’s this weird feeling that I can’t quite articulate. This feeling of being happy and sad, joyful and remorseful, filled with hope and filled with regret… A cavalcade of all of the feelings that no one can quite prepare you for.
The motherless mother club. It’s not a club I ever thought I’d be a part of, or want to be a part of, and it’s certainly not a club that I wish to recruit new members to. But the members of this club know all too well what I’m talking about.
So, to the motherless mother on this Mother’s Day… I see you and I know how you’re feeling. We are in this thing together.