I remember walking through the drug store with my eldest kiddo looking for my favorite shampoo when it caught me totally off guard. If I had known, or been prepared about my reaction, maybe I would have avoided the trip altogether, but that’s the thing about emotions..they can be sneaky little jerks. I stopped dead in my tracks at the beautiful, decorative sentimental Mother’s Day cards. It felt like someone punched me in the stomach, to the point I had lost my breath. It was my first Mother’s Day without my mom.
“To My Dearest Mom”, “To My Biggest Fan”—all of these gorgeous cards draped in pink and flowers made me want to vomit. It was a mixture of jealousy, anger, and sadness that I had never experienced before, and the feelings came out of left field. I wasn’t prepared for a parade of motherly adoration, and we quickly exited the store.
If for any reason you are ‘motherless’ (estrangement, sickness, death) I am so, so sorry. I knew that this group of people existed, but perhaps I didn’t want to think about what life would be like without my mom. We were so very close, talking every day without exception, and then it all just stopped. What is a person to do with all of those feelings? Especially on Mother’s Day?
I have four children of my own, and when my husband asked me how I wanted to celebrate the holiday, I selfishly said I wanted to pretend it was any other day. Thankfully, he reminded me of my four little cherubs who wanted to celebrate THEIR mother, even if she wasn’t up to a grand gesture. I cherished every minute of my breakfast in bed and handwritten cards. But, I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a bit of sadness flowing through the day.
What helped me get through Mother’s Day when I missed my mother so terribly? My own children. Isn’t that so sweetly ironic? I try and soak up the little moments with my kids daily because that is where I find my own mother. When I am making their breakfast and we chat about their day, I feel my mother. When I tickle their bellies and laugh until we cry, I feel my mother. She may not be visible, but her memory and her love are ever-present.
I have also realized that the mother I am, was formed by so many other people as well. My aunts, my sisters, my teachers, my friends, my in-laws, and even my husband. I take some of my favorite characteristics of them, and subconsciously carry them with me as a mama. We are constantly changing as people, and by default as mothers. We live, we learn, and we grow. I am so grateful to all of these influences on Mother’s Day, for helping me to be a better mother.
As I approach my second Mother’s Day without my mom, I can choose to focus on the gift she was to me rather than the void I often feel. I am so grateful for the woman who taught me how to cook, who never told my dad about that speeding ticket when I was sixteen, and who wore out the words ‘I love you’. May you all feel especially appreciated this Mother’s Day, and may we all take a moment to appreciate the examples set before us! Happy Mother’s Day Mamas!!