As the saying goes, “It’s Complicated.”
Mother’s Day is a complicated holiday for me. When I lost my mother at the age of 10, Mother’s Day became one of many annual reminders that opened up the gaping wound in my chest and poured salt directly on my heart.
Losing your mother when you are a child is one of those battle scars that you carry for your whole life. Only those who have fought a similar war can truly understand what it feels like.
Growing up, I didn’t know a single other kid without a mom. I always felt like I was "the girl whose mother died.” It was like being a minority, a foreigner, or having a handicap. Mostly a handicap. I was the one who walked around with a hole in her heart.
For years, I had to fight the melancholy that came over me on these kinds of holidays. At every family function, it felt like the guest of honor was always missing… especially on Mother’s Day.
At the age of 30, twenty years after my mother died, I started my own family. I wish I could tell you that having a child made the pain magically disappear. While I was grateful to have had a baby of my own, in some ways, it was a painful reminder of my mother's absence all over again. My friend’s mothers were there to plan their baby showers, hold their babies when their daughter’s needed to rest, answer all of their questions about newborns, run errands for them, babysit, and celebrate the milestones of their grandchildren. I felt overwhelmed, and often alone, trying to figure out how to even be a new mom.
When my second daughter was born, two weeks before Mother’s Day, I started to feel a slight shift. I felt more confident about being a mother. I felt like Mother’s Day was no longer about what I was missing, but what I had. As my children grew older, I was able to share stories about my mom and my own childhood. They would come to know her through me.
All three of my daughters delighted in the fact that I was such a different child than they were:
I was a worrier. They are not.
I was clingy. They are not.
I was a homebody. They are not.
All three of them will take any opportunity to go on an adventure, travel, or be with friends. In fact, on this Mother’s Day, my two oldest daughters are traveling in Europe together. (Both remembered to call me… which made me very happy.)
My youngest daughter will be spending the day with me, and we will spend the day doing my favorite thing: playing tennis… which coincidentally was my mother’s favorite hobby too.
So Mother’s Day is no longer a sad day. It remains a day of remembrance, but also a celebration of life. I am grateful to my daughters for making me feel like a good mom (most of the time). And for allowing me to tell them the same stories over and over again about the woman who had the most influence on my life... even though she was only in my life for such a short time.