I have been a mother for 15+ years. For these 15+ years, I have been showered with pasta jewelry, tempera-painted terracotta pots, popsicle stick framed photos, and more from four incredible boys who make my heart swell.
I was a daughter who celebrated my mom on Mother’s Day for 35 years. My tissue paper flowers evolved into traditions of honoring my quite remarkable mother – traditions that surrounded her.
The 10 short years I spent as both mother and daughter seemed strange – part intrusion of my motherness into my childhood family system and part shared motherness as a point of deeper connection, and strange in its lack of clarity. It was sort of a change in our tradition – but without the forging of a new tradition.
I remember my first year as a mother without a mother. I was in such a dark place I don’t really remember how I felt – or if I had even started feeling at all at that point. Maybe that was my transition year – my motherless gap year.
In the years since, I often feel deep grief.
I miss my mom.
I miss her smell and how her body – the body that held me for my entire life – still could mold to mine no matter how I grew and changed. The enveloping hugs only she could give – and did, up to her last day here. The cocooning hugs only your mom can provide.
My grief by no means prevents me from celebrating others’ joy on this day. I love watching multiple generations smile for a picture at brunch. I think I even notice it and appreciate it more now that she is gone.
It is still a strange feeling, and somewhat surreal, that I don’t have a mom anymore. I know it happens to nearly all of us at some point, but it is so odd to think to myself, I don’t have a mom. It is sort of like a thought and feeling that has no place to land. Like an awkward comment you don’t know whether to ignore or respond to. It just sort of hangs there – and it doesn’t go away. But, there isn’t really anything that can be done with it.
So, anyway, today I grieve. I cry. I retreat to my room to cuddle with my dog and type these words as an offering. As a request.
As a plea.
As a protest.
But as soon as this wave passes, I will make my way back out to the 4 incredible boys who have made me a mother.
I will notice how we mold, breathe in their smells, and see what treasures are wrapped in the tissue paper…
…and realize I am to them what my mother was to me.
…and I’ll try to let that sink in….just for a moment.….because that is remarkable.