It’s here again. The flipping of the calendar pages and it rolls around again.
When I was little, Mother’s Day was about making homemade cards, writing poems that rhymed, and making some kind of special food for my Mama. I probably crocheted her a bookmark or something small a year or two in there somewhere. It was a day about my Mama, making her feel special. I don’t know if I remembered to say thank you every year but I sure tried to make it “HER” day.
Later after I married, it expanded. It was about my Mama and my mother-in-law. Dividing our time between the two. Hoping they feel loved and treasured. And appreciated. Even after my first child was born, our day was already so full, it just seemed the obvious choice to keep it about them. I was fine with that actually. Having no expectations prevents disappointments. (And if you will recall, I’m a script writer from way back–but if I don’t write one, it’s all good.) I enjoyed making it all about these women who had built the foundations for my family.
Fast forward eighteen years. As I prepared to face my second Mother’s Day without my Mama, I pretty much decided the best coping mechanism was denial and avoidance. The mantra–“it’s just another day, it’s just another day”–was working for me. It is easier to handle feeling nothing than to feel the pain.
And then this happened.
A card. From my oldest’s grandmother.
When I read the sweet note that thanked me for the gift of her granddaughter, two things happened.
I cried. Bless her.
And then…..I felt ashamed.
I’ve been so busy feeling sad for me, or rather, avoiding feeling sad for me or anything for anyone else, that I failed to realize that this is a hard day for her.
The first Mother’s Day without her child.
Something no mother should ever have to experience.
Something in me broke in that moment and the floodgates opened. And I wept.
I can’t celebrate tomorrow with my Mama sitting across from me over a Stevi B’s veggie with pizza spice–giving her all my mushrooms–or with fried fish plates. I can’t hear her laughter as she reads the two or three cards I give her–I never could pick just one. I won’t see her wrinkle her nose and look at me and tell me how beautiful I am–all her ways of telling me she loves me dearly. And I won’t hear her say my name–this woman who gave me the name and gave me life–and who pronounces it like no other. I just won’t.
But I’m one of the lucky ones. Because all of those things have happened. Often.
With the big day approaching, women whom I love and respect, women who are caring and are not as self-absorbed as I, shared posts that, along with my sweet card, served as an impetus for me getting off my pity pot.
On Thursday, my friend Renea Winchester, who blogs here, shared this:
For many, Mother’s Day is a sorrowful time. Women recall the pain of babies who were never born, or were taken from them too soon. Daughters reflect on strained and broken relationships with their mother, and wish with everything in their soul that the relationship could be better. Some, who had a deep friendship with their mother, miss those times with a pain the heart can never overcome. Darling… girls whose mothers are in the fight for their lives also hurt with the uncertainty that today could be the last day. I’ve seen many posts from friends who have lost their mother this week. My heart goes out to them. So for those who have their mothers with them on this earth, let us not only reach out to her, but to our sisters today, tomorrow, and every day. Let us purpose to be a woman who uplifts and encourages another sister. Could you do that today, and every day?
Oh my heart. What a beautiful soul she is. And yes, we should strive to do just what she says. Uplift and encourage another.
Then on Friday, my sweet friend, Karen Spears Zacharias, who blogs here and here wrote:
And yet again I am reminded of how many kids come from homes absent loving mothers. This is a hard, hard week for those who have spent their childhood being the parent their moms failed to be. We have created a culture where too many children never know the tenderness of a loving mother. They have no idea what it means to be nurtured. Don’t just take time to thank your mom this weekend. Take time to hug a child who needs it.
Between these two beautiful, strong women who create beauty and inspire movement with their words, I was awakened. There are sisters who are hurting over this day. There are children whose hearts are aching. What better way to overcome my own pain than to do something to help ease the pain of another? Be the feather? Yes.
And then this was on my screen yesterday…..in preparation for their graduation today, the class of 2014 at my alma mater, Wesleyan College, shared their message about the education of women and standing strong for sisters everywhere:
I don’t remember a time I’ve been more proud to belong to this place.
Again, tears. There are mothers who are weeping daily over the loss of their daughters, over not knowing, their fears and anxieties and their imaginations taking over. My heart breaks for them.
As I picked up my card again last night, giving thanks for the one who took the time to think of it and to send it, filled with heartfelt and loving words that washed away so much hurt and pain, I contemplated how to make this day easier for her. Or more bearable. Sending flowers just seemed so trivial, considering all she’s going through. I mean, what do you give someone who has already started dispersing her things?
Your time. Your ear. Your shoulder. Your laughter. Your stories.
It came to me, whispered on the air, like a dandelion star floating across the sunlit yard. All of these things. More precious than gold.
So I called. I said thank you. And I love you too. And we laughed. And talked. And shared in the sadness and reveled in the joy of the good memories. And it was good.
I don’t know exactly what tomorrow will bring. I have a to do list that would be nice to get through, but it’s not set in stone. I plan to take down a candle and put it on the counter and light it tomorrow for all of those Mamas in Nigeria and all over this world who weep over their children. And for those children who don’t know what it’s like to have a Mama hug them tight, call them beautiful, and wrinkle her nose at them. It hurts to think about all of this pain–it would be much easier to ignore it…..and my own.
But numbness can be painful too after a while.
Tomorrow I hope to have an opportunity to hug a child, encourage a Mama–but then, in the words of my friend Miss N, “Why’s it gotta be just one day?” I hope tomorrow is the start of something good. For all of us. Time to find someone in need of refuge and be the feather.