I admit it. I really, really dislike Mother’s Day.
For starters, it is tough to celebrate this day without my mother, who passed away after a prolonged struggle with cancer when I was just 20 years old. Which seems so very young to me, now that I am 40 and the mother of two teenagers.
My brother goes to the cemetery to ‘visit’ our mother—especially on Mother’s Day. No disrespect, but what’s to visit? I have been to the cemetery once in nearly 20 years. To me, it is simply a stone in the grass. My mother isn’t ‘there.’ I do understand that cemetery visits provide great comfort to some. I’m just not one of them. My mother lives on in my memories each and every day.
It is often said that time heals all wounds, but it doesn’t. Not really. It just makes losses bearable—gives us a chance to accept them and go on living our lives.
As Mother’s Day approaches, feelings of loss inevitably surface. Every year. Mixed in with those sad feelings? A deep joy and gratitude that I am a mother.
It seems that Mother’s Day is all rainbows, unicorns and sunshine—for everybody else. Yet I cannot be the only one with conflicted feelings towards the day. Making it worse, expectations for the day pile up by way of cards, gifts, flowers, brunches and rounds of visits…
Last Sunday, I was happily lounging in my pj’s with a novel. Until the children banged through the front door, dumping all their shit in the doorway–after being with their father. Time to celebrate!
Hungry, we decided to go to breakfast at the local ‘family restaurant.’ By the time we were served, it was about lunchtime. It wasn’t as enjoyable as it could have been due to our low blood sugar. To borrow one of my Dad’s favorite sayings regarding crowds, it was “elbow to asshole” in that restaurant.
Next stop? A tag sale I was dying to check out—always interesting for me, because I have an eBay store. We were barely on the way to the sale, when my daughter was besieged with stomach cramps.
“Should I turn around and go home?” I said.
“No. I’ll be okay. But you might not be able to stay long…”
In my head, I was thinking…what’s the point of this excursion? At the sale, I hardly had a chance to shop, before hearing “Mom….” In that small little voice—the one that tells a parent their child is in distress. What could I do? I tossed a few dollars on the table to cover my two purchases and bolted.
I drove NASCAR style home, which is downright scary. This can be confirmed by asking those who regularly ride with me. I got my girl home ASAP so that she could visit the bathroom, before falling asleep, curled up on the couch.
Yet, we pressed on. My daughter insisted on taking me to the store to choose flowers for our planters and beds. Her treat. Which was lovely, though they didn’t quite have what we were looking for.
Undeterred, we went to the beach. A calm, relaxing place. We searched for sea glass—but barely found any. We left the special tool at home that was needed to bring home a rock that I had spotted on a previous visit to the beach.
“This day has been a disaster,” said my daughter.
My son couldn’t concur. He was way out of earshot, busy scaling the side of a cliff with our puppy in tow—making my blood pressure skyrocket. His sea glass search lasted about 10 seconds, before he found better things to do. Things that make me crazy! Thankfully, he didn’t start back flipping off of the dirt ledges—but only because I gave him my best ‘look’ while he was inspecting a hunk of dirt jutting from the nearby cliffside…
Our visit to the beach was short. My daughter took the wheel for the drive home, which was a nice break for me. Until with she reached back to scratch her neck and brushed a tick—yes…a TICK—out of the car window.
This is the very same child who as a two-year-old proclaimed that she “was never, ever going outside again!” Why? There was a bumblebee sighting. She is and has always been terrified of bugs, flies and insects. To the point where she shrieks—almost involuntarily—at the sight of creepy crawlers. Her screams could rival any actress in a horror movie and could just about make a person’s ears bleed. Not overstating this.
She should NOT be driving a motor vehicle AND dealing with a tick!! I quickly instructed her to pull off the road into the nearest farmers market, so that her meltdown didn’t have us careening into oncoming traffic. We happened to be traveling on a 4-lane, 50mph road—with no barrier separating traffic directions.
Long ago, I accepted that mostly things DO NOT go according to plan. At least not for me. Which has helped develop my sense of humor. The kids and I shared laughs throughout the day, as things went awry at every turn.
We remembered the Mother’s Day that my ex (back when we were married) took the kids to pick out flowers for me to plant. Then nixed their suggestions, in favor of his choices. (The kids would have been right on the money) He then insisted I plant his gift of ‘full sun’ plants in a shady spot, even when I told him that they would die there. Seeing the futility in doing otherwise, I planted them as instructed. They wilted and died. The kids and I ended up planting a new set of flowers.
Who buys a gift because they like it and demands it be put where they want it? Is that really even a gift? Classic. It is one of those ‘remember when…’ stories that a handful of people remember and still get a giggle over…
To his defense, my ex was known to be spot on when it came to gift giving and thoughtfulness, while we were married. Flowers for no reason. Surprise ski trip out west for my 21st birthday. Sending me 3 adorable matching teddy bears that arrived ON Mother’s Day—One dressed as the mother bear and two smaller bears for her children. They boy in denim overalls and the girl in a pink dress—my children’s names embroidered on their little outfits. Maybe that’s why the plant fiasco still seems so funny to us. Because it wasn’t the norm.
Despite the many wonderful times sprinkled in between the disasters and resident sadness–Mother’s Day just isn’t that much fun for me. I have never liked being the center of attention. And it seems rather silly to make such a big deal out of one day, when for me every day spent with my children is special. That is the upside of cancer—those left behind cannot help but appreciate every day.
The little things mean everything to me. My children treat each other (and me) with kindness. They sometimes close my bedroom door in the morning so that I catch a few extra minutes of sleep. I can’t remember them ever yelling at each other. They work together and help each other automatically—without my interference—and always have. I remember that as a preschooler, my daughter never got herself a cookie or Popsicle, without bringing her brother one. Whether he asked or not. To this day, she counts on her brother to get rid of the spiders and ‘creepy crawlers’ in the house—and he does so without complaint or torturing her. In some ways, every day feels like Mother’s Day to me.
No mother could ask for more wonderful children, than the two that I have been so blessed to have in my life. Nor could I have had a more wonderful mother—I had for a short time, a mother-daughter relationship that many never experience.
I understand the concept of Mother’s Day. But I can’t help but think the sentiment behind it is often ruined by our expectations and the need to have the Perfect day—instead of savoring time with loved ones–even when those times are mostly disastrous.
As for me, I’m just glad its over.