Mother's Day is Sunday. Sigh.
For me, Mother's Day is like Valentine's Day for the broken hearted, Christmas and Thanksgiving without family, and New Year's Eve at home alone. All on the same day. You know those holidays manufactured to make you feel badly? Yeah, that's Mother's Day at my home. No need to play your violin, as every day stings a little for me. I'm mostly used to it.
This is my ode to those of us who struggle at this time of year, when the media turns to images of pretty young moms embracing their kids or older matriarchs beaming with pride over her tribe. We're encouraged to up our consumption of flowers and brunch and manicures. For a few weeks in May, everything turns 50 shades of pastel (and from what I hear, 50 shades of another color is what moms are really hoping for this Mother's Day). Here's to us, folks, the ones who turn to puddles in the middle of May.
- For those of us who've lost a mom (suck it cancer, stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer's, insert dastardly disease here __________________);
- For those of us whose mom is sick (see above disease culprits);
- For those of us whose mom didn't know how to be a mom;
- For those of us who wonder who our "real" mom might be;
- For those of us who feel guilty about that;
- For those of us with two moms (bonus!), but with double the above troubles;
- For those of us who have a mom, but don't much like her.
It's tough to not have a Mom. Mine died when I was pregnant with my first child. She was a great Mom, like butter that could be hard or soft, but went well with everything. She was my family's glue, our Switzerland in the midst of garden variety familial dysfunction. With her gone, my family is altered to the point that it is almost unrecognizable to me. Now we're a group of islands looking at one another in the distance. I miss you Mom. I understand you better now. I'm so sad for the family that was and know you must be, too. I hope you are in a better place, enjoying your granddaughter, with a book and a cigarette, and a Coke close by.
- For those of you who've lost a child through illness;
- For those of you who've lost a child through accident;
- For those of you who've lost a child to drugs or addiction;
- For those of you who've lost a child at birth;
- For those of you who've lost a child through miscarriage;
- For those of you who try and try and try to conceive, but can't;
- For those of you who wish to adopt, and are waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting; and still waiting;
- For those of you who wish to adopt, but can't afford it;
- For those of you who don't wish to be a mom, but feel the scorn that so often creates;
- For those of you who mothered so well that your kids done grown up and left you, for you, too.
I am so grateful to have Mary Tyler Son to care for and fuss over. He was born in the midst of my daughter's cancer treatment and I have a distinct memory, near his first birthday, two months after my girl died, of seeing him for the first time. Really, truly seeing him -- separate and independent from grief and sadness and his sister. Seeing him. I am so grateful my eyes were open to his joy and wonder. I thank my lucky stars every time his toddler antics get the better of me. And I think of those mothers that are reflected above, gals that are still mothers, women who will always be mothers, but with no one to mother. I hold you close this Mother's Day and I think of you.
- For those battling their own illness;
- For those battling their own addiction;
- For those mothering, but who probably should not be, for a thousand different reasons.
I think of you, too, this Mother's Day. One of the most amazing things that has come to me through writing has been hearing from different moms whose struggles look nothing like mine own, but who identify with the struggle itself. A reader wrote to me in the midst of her own illness, when we were in the thick of Donna's. She was hopeful, but excrutiatingly aware that her children, her daughters, would most likely grow up without her. She was right. I learned later that she had died in the midst of transplant surgery. And now her girls are motherless, grappling with their own sadness this Mother's Day. Another reader wrote to me about her addiciton and how reading about Donna made her see her own toddler, neglected through that addiciton, in a new and necessary way. She is now clean and sober over five months. That mom has a shot at a real and joyous Mother's Day, and I wish her the best.
This post is for all of us on the other side of the Mother's Day coin. Kraft och omtanke to you. Strength and consideration instead of flowers, or brunch, or manicures. Soon it will be Monday and we can all breathe a sigh of relief.