Musings on Mothers and Their Day

Some random thoughts from my corner of the world today.

It’s another in a long line of cloudy, damp, windy, chilly days. Nothing warm and fuzzy about the weather here for Mother’s Day. In fact, I’m cuddled into my bedroom chair, sipping hot coffee and wrapped in a blanket. Grandma’s will be unable to send unruly grandchildren outside to play; adult “kids” will be stuck inside with no distractions from mom’s prying questions or complaints (if she’s that kind of mother). I suspect there will be more than a few tears related to the weather today.


We have a rule in our family. We NEVER eat in restaurants on Mother’s Day. The rule went into effect about 25 years ago after a particularly disastrous attempt to take my mother and mother-in-law out for dinner at a steakhouse they both liked. We waited more than an hour (even though we had a reservation); when we finally sat down we waited another 30 minutes to order; when we ordered, they had run out of everything we wanted; when we finally got our second choices, they were burned. So, we eat at home on Mother’s Day.


My mother and my mother-in-law couldn’t have been more different in their relationship with holidays. For my mother-in-law, holidays were mandatory family get togethers, and these gatherings must always occur on the actual day itself. The day before or the day after were not acceptable. Every holiday must be so celebrated - the major ones like Christmas, Easter, and everyone’s birthday, clear through the more minor occasions such as Labor Day. (The only holiday we didn’t celebrate was President’s Day. I’m not sure why, but I was grateful for a freebie.) My mother and I felt holidays really weren’t worth the time or effort. My mother-in-law died in 2008, and we enjoyed almost a decade of virtually celebration-less holidays. Don’t feel sad about that for us. We were perfectly happy to spend an hour or two over dinner and then go home to our respective activities. Maybe it’s an only-child thing. One’s own company is always the best.


Of course I miss my mother today. But I miss her every day, so today isn’t much different in that respect. I could certainly do without all the reminders. I remember the first mother’s day after she died I walked into Walgreen’s to pick up a prescription and when my eyes hit the Hallmark Mother’s Day card display I literally fell backwards against the shelves behind me. One of those fist to the heart moments that occur so often in the early days of grieving. Now I know to avert my eyes when I go near the Hallmark display in May.


I feel so lucky to have had my mother in my life for 60 years. And to have had her literally right down the street for 35 years of my adult life. I’m acquainted with a number of young people in their 30’s whose mothers have died, and their grief hurts me. Your mother should be around to see you get married and raise a family. She should be there to be proud of your new job, to ride in your new car, to look at photos of your cruises and trips to Australia. I want to hug all those young people. I want to be an extra mother to them. But I know that wouldn’t be enough. It’s just their own mother they really want.


I have a number of friends who have or had difficult relationships with their mothers. I have friends who are on the cusp of losing their mothers. I have friends who are beginning to bow under the weight of caretaking their mothers. I have friends who want desperately to be mothers. And I have friends who live with the grief of losing a much loved child. These are people I also want to hug today.


Obviously my feeble attempt to ignore this day has failed. And maybe it’s just general perversity on my part. Since my son moved away from home in 1998, we have only once been together on Mother’s Day, and I think that was in 2002. But I don’t care about holidays, right? So what’s the difference? In truth, it’s similar to the feeling I have about my mother today. I miss my son every day that we’re not together. Mother’s day is no different. There is a lady in our church who always donates alter flowers on Mother’s Day and dedicates them to “All those mother’s who will not see or talk to their children today.” I don’t know her story but it’s obviously a sad one.


Mainly today I’m grateful for having had a wonderfully loving and supportive mother who was around to see me become an old lady myself. I’m grateful for all the women in my life who have mothered me in ways they probably don’t even realize. I’m grateful for having a son who loves me and talks to me, a son who has turned out to be a loving and supportive father to his little boy. I hope I’m around long enough to see him become an old man, and to see that little boy of his off into his adulthood.


When I was a little girl and Mother’s Day rolled around, my mom would say as I handed her a homemade card or a drippy bouquet of flowers, “We don’t need a special day, EVERY day is Mother’s Day!” She wasn’t being sarcastic - as in every day a mother has to cook, and clean up spilled milk, and get the kids off to school, and stop their fighting. For her, being a mother was something she just DID without thinking much about it.

She was first and foremost a Mother. She was a very special one indeed.