Its a struggle to write about Mother's Day any year. It seems such a narcissistic, "look at me" thing to do, writing paeans of praise to my Mother - although she absolutely deserves them - and posting blissful thanks for the amazing sweet love of my own children. Regardless, I'm compelled to write. You don't ignore Mother's Day.
The array of emotions that this greeting card holiday manages to yank out of my psyche is as wide as an ocean.
Maybe it sounds glib to say how abundantly blessed I've been when it comes to family. It is nonetheless true. I'm priviliged to have parents who take the "womb to tomb" mantra quite literally, and I'm fortunate to have healthy, loving children. Maybe as blog topics go, these are the low-hanging fruit. Easy to write about, unless you want to try and express these thoughts in words that haven't already been said a million times by other, more gifted writers.
I could pull on your heartstrings and talk about adoption loss, about the ageless conflict between the child who was given away and the child who was accepted as family. I could tell you how hard it is for me to grasp the idea that after nearly fifty years of parenting my mother will face her first Mother's Day with only one living child. These might be interpreted as navel-gazing attempts to elicit sympathy or attention. But they are our realities this year, and every year.
On Sunday my family will celebrate Mother's Day in our standard fashion: I will attempt to scrub my offspring into an acceptably clean state, attempt to dress them in reasonably suitable clothes. We will go to my parents' house whereupon my mother will take a washcloth to my son's face and suggest my daughter brush her hair. Then she and the kids will disappear into another room so she can help them prepare the gifts she has gotten for them to give to me. I'll pretend I have no idea what's going on so that my children will be pleased that their subterfuge has been successful and that they could "surprise" me. I'll give my mother some lovely flowers and a card that barely manages to express the complex depth of feeling I have for her. We will have lunch during which my dad will complain because my children are picky eaters and as a child of the Depression he has no patience for people who don't appreciate food. My mother will attempt to teach my children the table manners I have been to lazy to enforce. We'll enjoy ourselves despite ourselves, then I'll help Mom clear the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher. The kids will play upstairs and fight while my folks and I enjoy each other's company for a bit.
The less joyous realities of a missing son & sibling will be ever present, and I'll more than likely have a passing thought or two about the contrast between the mother I could have ended up with and the mother I so fortunately got. I'll try not to wander down the rabbit hole of either of these things, instead countering them with tangible reminders of the joys of being a mother and a daughter. I'll try to live in the moment, foregoing the need to dwell on the past or influence the future. (I did say "Try." Success is not a given)
Greeting card holiday or not, Mother's Day pulls on my heartstrings. My Mom is as much a part of my DNA as my children; how I arrived into this world is simply a technicality. I don't mean to make light of adoption or the importance of honoring our biological ties, but my feelings about the woman who gave birth to me are complicated and generally not pleasant. My mother, on the other hand, is the one person in this world who accepts me unreservedly, who knows me about as well as it is possible to know another person and loves me anyway. She's the mother I should have been born to but was lucky enough to get anyway.
My daughter wrote this in school (when she was supposed to be doing something else) and couldn't stand to wait until Mother's Day to give it to me:
I'm the best mom she has, even if it is by default. I suppose that's true for all of us, just not nearly so positive a truth for too many of us.
Mother/child relationships are the first and most important relationships of our lives. When children are safe and loved, they generally bloom in the ways they are meant to. As I did.
Happy Mother's Day to MY mom. Happy Mother's Day to all the other moms I know, all the moms by default and the moms by choice, the moms by accident and the moms by careful planning. Happy Mother's Day to the moms who are moms even though their children are no longer with them. And to anyone for whom this day is painful, for whatever reason, know that I don't disregard your pain or your loss or your struggles. You have my deepest regards.