OK, hold on…before you get all irritated, hear me out on this one. I LOVE Mother’s Day, but I also dread Mother’s Day. Every year, I endure this inner battle that my psyche is waging with itself; and it can get pretty brutal at times. I’m not going to lie, I have had some dark years.
When I was a little girl, we always went and ordered my mom a fresh flower corsage to wear to church on Mother’s Day. White, since her own mother had long since passed. I loved this simple act of choosing which flower she would like and designing the corsage. Going back to pick it up and “hiding” it in the refrigerator. Somehow I always thought she was surprised by this gesture; and she always made me feel like she was. We would buy cards and take her out to eat after church. Mother’s Day was always a production, but it was an honor. The favor was always returned in June when Father’s Day came around.
I’ll never forget the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach as my family started to break apart, and my parents stopped doing those little gestures for each other. I can still remember going to a special horse event with my dad, and realizing that we hadn’t ordered a corsage for my mom yet. I panicked and called the florist from the event. I cried and cried. It was that day that I understood that I would have to start celebrating them on my own from then on. They wouldn’t be celebrating each other anymore or helping me coordinate any more surprises. I was heartbroken but resolved. That was the first time Mother’s Day changed for me.
Then years later, when my mom and I were celebrating Mother’s Day, I was 20 years old. We had the best day…it was just like old times. I ordered her a white gardenia (one of her favorite flowers) corsage, I went to church with her, I had bought her a new dress to wear, and we had bought new matching purses. After church, we went to lunch together. All-in-all, it was the perfect day. I would have given anything to have known that was going to be our last Mother’s Day together…she was killed a month later in a car accident. That changed Mother’s Day for me for many years. Although I had a Step-mother who loved me, I saw no reason to celebrate Mother’s Day. I wasn’t a mom and I had just lost my mom. I just felt dark and empty. I resented the holiday and everyone celebrating on that day. I hated the commercials, the Lifetime movies, the cards…I hated everything about that day. In reality, it wasn’t the holiday I hated, it was my loss and pain. I resented her being taken away from me too soon.
Then I became a mom myself. That was probably an even bigger struggle because then I had to celebrate Mother’s Day. I couldn’t hide from it anymore in good conscience. It wasn’t fair to my kids to not let them celebrate me. At first, I was there as a shell, but I was still obviously miserable. I was still so stuck in my own misery that I was unable to receive their love and appreciation. They felt it, I felt it. It sucked. One day, I just really got sad about my mom and missed the woman she was. I was thinking about who she was and who I was missing out on…it dawned on me as I sat there; she would be really mad at me for wallowing in my sadness when there was all of this goodness around me. She used to always say the craziest things, sometimes they were really prophetic. One of the things she used to say was, “You can’t see past the stick on your face.” If you just focus on what is right under your nose, the problem closest to you, you’ll miss the forest. Sometimes, you have to get past yourself in order to move on.
Please don’t think that this means that I don’t miss my mom every single day. Some days, especially the difficult days, I can’t imagine how I’ve lived without her for 20 years. I’m just saying that I would miss out on so many daily blessings if I focused more on what I lost in her than what I have been given all around me. Yes, I was robbed when she was taken too soon. I have also been blessed time and time again. She would not want me to focus on her loss more than I focus on my blessings. She would never want to know that I am so sad about losing her that I can’t enjoy my life.
If I learned anything important from my mom that I hope I have passed on to my kids, it is this…Be a friend to the friendless. Family is who you make it. There were many times over the years when our friends were our family. I have seen mom’s come in all shapes and sizes. I have been “mothered” by friends, friend’s mothers, aunts and grandmas… I have myself mothered those I have birthed, those I have acquired, those I have wanted, those I have borrowed, those I have visited, those I haven’t even known… Trust me, you don’t have to give birth to celebrate or be celebrated on Mother’s Day. Yes, it is a special day that should be held sacred for those of us that love us some kids and take time to do some raising. However, some of us have lost those special ladies in our lives and some of us have lost our kids…they still deserve to be celebrated and loved on. We all come from somewhere, and sometimes these special days are painful for whatever reason. So, follow my mom’s example and just be a friend to the friendless. Love on someone who might need loving. Maybe they are missing someone they’ve lost. Maybe they are missing someone that they’ve never been able to have. Either way, they could probably use some love. I’ve got 3 amazing kids that tell me how great I am and I still feel the hole that my mom leaves. If you are blessed to still have your mom, hug her extra tight. If you miss your mom too, hug your kids extra tight. Just don’t hide and wallow…I know she wouldn’t have wanted that.
I was blessed for 20 years with my mom. I have those years to look on and pull from to make me the kind of mom I want to be. I ask myself, do my kids have that in me? I need to be living the life that would make her proud. The best way to keep my mom close is by living a life that would make her proud. I’m not going to do that by living a life of resentment because she’s not here. I can see her in my kids, I can see her in myself, and I can see her in little memories all around. Most of all, I hope to honor her this Mother’s Day by being happy and enjoying the best day with my kids.
Happy Mother’s Day!