A version of the piece below was previously published in The Fresno Bee on May 5, 2018.
It’s been a freakin’ weird week. (I’d drop the real F-bomb here but I don’t want it totally screw with my website’s SEO — does that still happen on the internet if you stick profanity in your posts?)
MOTHER’S DAY. (sigh) How I’ve been dreading you this year.
To back everything up, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Mother’s Day. Since I became a mom myself, I’ve chalked up this “holiday” as a day that seems to get more ridiculously amped each year. Mother’s Day! Mother’s Day! Mother’s Day! Please. I’ve poked fun about how it’s turned into a total sham, a marketed excuse to buy stupid stuff and a quick fix for those who don’t honor their moms every day. I’ve even been known to passively protest the day itself by skipping out on certain festivities in favor of working…
My frustration with Mother’s Day has no rooted logical excuse. I had an ideal relationship with my mom for almost 40 years — what I like to call a perfect blend of parent/child bond and honest friendship. Depending on whether I was in my hometown (Fresno) or if she made a trip to Southern California, we’d celebrate in ways that fit our schedule and whereabouts — one year it was a trip to Vegas with my sister, another year it was a phone call from 240 miles away. No big deal. Every day was Mother’s Day… and Mother’s Day was just another day.
But this year, Mother’s Day will be a big deal: It will be my family’s first without my mom.
The last six months since her passing have been an awkward combination of childhood nostalgia, gratitude that she was MY mom and suffocating feelings of being in a deep dark pit that sometimes takes me days or weeks to fully climb my way out of. From the outside I’m living life, working, uplifting my kids and feeding everyone dinner as anyone who’s experienced loss does (you just keep going).
But internally, I’ve been tiptoe-ing around the past month concerned with a big blank question of “How will I feel on May 13?” A part of me has been holding my breath, preparing for some kind of fatal tidal wave titled “Mother’s Day 2018.” My kids have even brought it up, “Will you miss Grandma on Mother’s Day?” they ask. Yes girls, I will. I miss her so much. Every day. (And then I smile to let them know that I’m okay and feeling sad is a part of life we need not be scared of…)
My brain is telling me I should be cursing this week… but my gut won’t let me. My mom won’t let me. You can handle it, she’d say. (Remember “Handle It?” Great read if you’ve got time…)
But instead of freaking out about what’s to crash, I’m taking positive control before the wave lands. Occupy yourself. Be grateful for what’s still here. Handle it.
So, (like a crazy person), I’m inviting local family over for a ‘fun, fancy and totally fabulous’ Mother’s Day meal with flowers and everything. I’ll make my most favorite recipes (ones my mom taught me), serve everything on pretty platters and crystal (wedding registries were always her favorite when someone got married) and will deck my daughters in matching dresses (my mom’s trademark for her granddaughters).
And even though I still consider Mother’s Day a total sham (a marketed excuse to buy stuff and a quick fix for those who don’t honor their moms every day), I now find myself approaching it with wounded and fresh perspective. This year, Mother’s Day is a milestone opportunity to stand, to be strong, to mom-up.
For. My. Daughters.
For those of us who have lost our moms, Mother’s Day can be a day for us to focus on honoring what our moms taught us, how they motivated us, how we continue to love them even though they’ve moved on. This Mother’s Day will be a memory that, I imagine, will be twisted with strained and/or painful nostalgia and deep appreciation for the present. (FYI, I plan on crying in the bathroom after everyone goes home…)
I will handle it, Mom — because this Mother’s Day is a huge opportunity to show your grandkids that real love really does stay alive forever. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to miss a chance of a lifetime like that.
Cheers to fabulous moms everywhere, here and beyond.