I have had it on the tip of my tongue more than once this week.
And I’ve held it back. Held it in.
Tried to change my way of thinking, the way I see what is before me.
I’ve really tried to keep the “h” word away from how I feel about this day. This day that makes the card companies and the florists and the chocolatiers and restaurants all so very happy.
And so many of the rest of us just NOT.
But right behind all of the negative thoughts, I realized that hating any day would be disrespectful of the one who raised me, the one I miss so much, the one whose absence makes me dread the day.
In my Mama’s eyes, hating any day was pretty much a sin. It is a gift given, and it should be appreciated. Not everyone gets this day. Go with it and fill it with love and laughter and sharing light.
That was my Mama.
So, on this day, that has every single person feeling any myriad of emotions from joy to sorrow to pain to happiness to dread to anticipation, I decided to do what my Mama taught me to do.
Try to find something to be thankful for.
Tonight I’m thankful for the woman who made the decision to have me–she chose me over her college degree, after she was advised to quit with only two quarters left in order to have a healthy pregnancy. I’m thankful for her patience and perseverance over the years. Every bit of that went into making me who I am right this minute.
My Mama was a strong woman. She still is–she’d have to be, the way I still hear her voice and feel her guiding me, strong as ever, even three years after she took her last breath.
I realize this Mamahood journey isn’t an idyllic one. It’s not what the greeting cards would lead one to believe. But before I start groaning about messy rooms and little people full of sass, I think about those for whom this day will be especially hard. And I hush my mouth.
You see, I “lost” my Mama. (I didn’t really lose her, but for the lack of a better word right now, we’ll go with it.) But y’all, that’s how life goes, isn’t it? It’s what one might could call the “proper order of life.” As we grow older, our parents leave this world, and somehow, unbelievably, we carry on. However, there are sweet precious Mamas who still walk this earth whose children no longer do.
I cannot fathom their pain. I cannot imagine what Mother’s Day is like for them.
Strong women walk among us. Amazingly strong women.
Like the Mama who, back when I was director of the child care center, brought in the three year old child she’d just adopted. She worked with this child who didn’t always know what to do with her feelings, and she raised her the best she could, all by herself. I ran into this Mama last fall at a funeral for a mutual friend. I asked her about her daughter, and her eyes darkened for just a second before she smiled again. Her sweet child, long grown, had passed from this world a couple of years before. This woman who stood before me–still a Mama, always a Mama–pulled her daughter’s funeral program, with her obituary, from her purse and pressed it into my hands. “Take it,” she said. “I keep extras with me all the time.” Oh bless. Bless her heart and all the broken pieces she has had to pick up and put back together–and still does–as she faces this world day after day without her child.
Or the Mama whose only child left this world, although grown, long before his time. Each Easter Eve, she boils three or four eggs. In her kitchen by herself, she dyes these eggs, and puts all but one in her Frigidaire. The last egg she places in a tiny basket with grass and takes out to her son’s grave. “Because the boiled eggs were his favorite.” The next day she goes back and cleans it all up. She’s done this each year, and it makes her tired heart smile to remember the Easters when the boiled eggs made him smile that beautiful smile of his.
Then there are the Mamas who have watched their children go through great pain and heartache. I’ve stood in the afternoon sun, listening as a sweet Mama talked about the struggles her grown baby had gone through. She knows him best. She knows what everyone else thinks has hurt him, but she sees through it and holds him in her heart and prayers. She holds on to the hope that one day he will smile again, without the pain showing through his eyes.
Much like the hope the Mama whose son is on the streets hangs on to. She’s tried her best to help him, but the addictions have a stronger hold on him. And so he calls her from time and time. She takes him to breakfast or takes him to buy a new pair of pants. She listens for the phone calls that don’t come, and when they do, she bows her head before answering, dreading the news she knows will eventually come. And yet, still she hopes.
The thing I like least about this day is that it draws a line between “us” and “them.” The ones who have children and the ones who don’t. The ones whose children are doing well and the ones whose children aren’t. The people whose Mamas are still living and the ones whose Mamas are not. The children, young and old, who had wonderful relationships with their Mamas–and the ones who didn’t. The lines that could be drawn are endless.
In honor of my Mama, I won’t take the blessings of where I am on either side of these lines for granted. I won’t focus on what I had. Instead I will look around at all that I have and hold them tight in my arms and heart, and I will SMILE. There might be moments when tears will accompany the smiles, and there will be moments when I stumble and forget to be thankful, but I will keep smiling.
Because it’s just a day. Like all days, a precious gift. And Monday’s coming.
And in the words of my very wise, much loved Mama, who told me not to have regrets about “us” when her time here was done, I will celebrate and proclaim as she often did, “Happy Everyday!”
Because life and this journey is more than just this one day a year. And we are all in this together, no matter what side of the lines we are on.
Love to all.