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Mother's Day Without Mom

My mother has been dead for 10 years-10 years! That just blows my mind. She died of cancer, living only 6 months after she was diagnosed. One Mother’s Day she was there and the next she was gone. The cancer spread to her brain and a seizure would start right there in front of you while you were talking to her. It was gruesome. Her skin turned yellow, simple cuts and scrapes on her skin wouldn’t heal. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t walk up stairs. When you watch someone you love so much suffer like that, it changes who you are and how you see the world. It changes what you worry about. It forever changes Mother’s Day.

In 10 years since she died I think I have grieved in a healthy way and have come to terms with her loss, which basically means I miss her terribly and think about her every single day. I have kept objects just because I remember her touching them. If I live longer than my mother did, (and I really, really, really hope I do) I will have known my mother for less than 1/3 of my life. Already, I have forgotten her voice, many aspects of her sense of humor, the taste of her cooking. I want her to come pick up my kids from school one day. Heck-I want her to meet my children. She never met my children. My four-year-old asked me the other day what a Grandpa was (my father is also dead).  Think about that. I almost cried. My children have no concept of a grandparent, as they rarely get to see Jerry’s parents.

I matured very quickly after my Mom died. I don’t say that in a braggy sort of way. It was a survival strategy-I had to. I was the only one of my siblings who was out of their teens, albeit barely. I simply had to, as there were so many things that instantly became my responsibility as the oldest sibling and now the matriarch of 2 families.

I know a lot of women who have a hard time on Mothers Day. They even go so far as to say they hate it. I think maybe they feel guilty because they work, because they yell sometimes, because they even hurt their childrens feelings on occasion. Some women would just like to skip the day altogether. Please don’t skip this day. Please don’t waste this day. There is no such thing as a perfect mother , and children don’t need a perfect mothers. They just need to feel like they belong to the mother they have. They need to see someone who sometimes struggles and sometimes succeeds. Someone who burns dinner and cant keep the house clean. Who just needs a nap and who makes a million other mistakes, and maybe gets a few things right in there, once -in-a while. That’s what I miss. The real person my mother was. If I had one more day with my mother, one more day where she was healthy and bright again I would talk to her, all day. I would ask her if she was proud of me, if any of my kids look like me at that age. I’d ask her for advice, I’d complain a little. I’d choose a simple meal to share so that I wouldn’t waste my time in the kitchen. I’d ask her why on earth she loved animals with jet black fur so much. I’d ask her to tell me more stories of where she grew up and stories of her job (she worked full time). I hope we would laugh a lot. She had a great laugh, I do remember that.

Maybe Mother’s Day is really commercialized. Maybe there are a lot of stereotypes projected at church that are hard to live up to. The truth is I have never really noticed any of that. I look forward to spending the day doing the things with my kids that I wish I could do with my Mom. Talking, laughing, sitting down to eat sandwiches. I want to spend the day trying to notice things about them that I am otherwise too busy to notice. I don’t want to resent Mother’s Day and I don’t want my kids to hear me say that I hate Mother’s Day (I think it does affect them when we do that). Instead I want to celebrate the chance I have to form a relationship with them. That of all the billions of people in the world, I have 5 little ones who I get to know better than anyone. I get to know all their quirks, strengths, and weaknesses and the byproduct of that kind of relationship is that they get to know mine, too. They will know my weaknesses better than anyone, and that’s ok. In fact I hope that helps them. I’m just a normal person who loves them a whole lot. After all, someday, I’ll be gone, too. I know what that feels like. And all they will have left are memories. “Good” memories, bad memories, cumulative impressions of memories that aren’t really conscious. However much time I do have with my kids is a chance to engrain a feeling or a memory. Not a once-in-a life time kind of memory like going to Disneyland, but a subtle, stronger, and more useful memory of someone doing their best to survive and enjoy the lot given to them. The reality is, they will grow up to be imperfect people and to be imperfect parents themselves. I really want to live long enough to meet my grandchildren. That’s the magic of it , isn’t it? Another generation of imperfect people born to change and adapt to us as we change and adapt to them, all the while making-do with what life throws at us (with the occasional chocolate chip cookie thrown in there for good measure).

So, Happy Mother’s Day. Really, Happy Mother’s Day. I love Mother’s Day. There is so much to be happy about. Now, go quiz your kids and see how much they know about you. They will thank you for it later-trust me.






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