Mother’s Day has never been easy for me. For years – over a decade – I dreaded this day, as all it did was remind me that my own mom was gone from this earth.
The first Mother’s Day without my mom was awful. But it was also lovely, in a way, as so many people checked in with me. They sent flowers and cards and well-wishes. I felt loved, even if I was really sad that day.
But then came the next Mother’s Day, and the Mother’s Day after that. Gradually, people stopped checking in on me. I grew up, got married, and “got on” with my life. Mother’s Day wasn’t easy, but it was easier. I figured out how to live in this world without my mom, even if certain days brought back real sadness.
And then, eleven years after my mom died, Claire was born and Mother’s Day changed. No longer was it a day about my mom. Instead, it was a day made for me and for our little family. On my first Mother’s Day, Shawn woke up early with Claire, made breakfast for all of us and then Claire promptly threw-up all over everything. Shawn had to wake me up, and we both laughed at how comical my first Mother’s Day had become. “Sorry for puking all over your Mother’s Day brunch” the card from my baby read that year. Each year, when he’d try and orchestrate another Mother’s Day extravaganza, we’d laugh that it couldn’t possibly be worse than the first one.
God, we were so naive.
Last year, I made it through Mother’s Day with a resolute feeling that I was going to be proud of myself if I just managed to stay standing. Everyone checked in with me and I received more cards and notes and hugs than all of the previous years combined. I had a decent night out with my friends and the kids went camping with Shawn’s friends. It was as good as could be expected.
This year I didn’t emotionally steel myself for Mother’s Day like I did last year. I was anxious last week, and I kept telling people I wasn’t sure why – though I think in the back of my mind I knew. But I still went through my week and woke up Saturday morning excited to spend the day with my friends. And it was great. We laughed a lot and had great food and I had glimpses of my old life.
But grief is sneaky.
About halfway through Saturday evening, I started to have this feeling of dread that sometimes creeps up on me. It washed over me in a way I can’t quite describe, bringing up ugly feelings I am somewhat embarrassed to put into print. But I’ll try, because honesty is what I do here. I started to feel one thing, specifically:
I am jealous of my friends.
I know they have their own problems and I know that no one’s lives are perfect. But I couldn’t help this thought running through my head:
I’d trade places with any of you in a heartbeat.
One of my friends has a great husband who asked us to toast her that night. I pushed it to the back of my mind, and only remembered when it was too late. I felt really bad about forgetting, but I’m sure it was a defense mechanism. If I thought about it too much, I knew that I’d start sobbing at the bar – and no one needs that.
Thinking about his sweet gesture – and the many I saw from loving husbands as I scrolled through Facebook this weekend – can almost be too much for me. It’s almost too much for me because it just reminds me, once again, of all that I am missing.
There’s no one left on this earth that remembers the moment each of my children were born. There’s no one in my life who loves me more than anyone in else the world and there’s no one who loves my children like I do. There’s no one who looked at me on Mother’s Day morning and said, “you are the best wife and mother. You hold this family together. You should be celebrated, because you are my rock.”
Yes, people still wrote me cards this year, and yes, my friends reached out to me. Yes, my dad is great and wished me a happy Mother’s Day. Yes, people love me, and yes, I’m lucky to have three kids who bring me so much joy.
But my Mother’s Day will never be normal again, even if my wonderful friends help me to celebrate and even if their generous husbands continue to take my kids camping.
On this day – the day when everyone is supposed to celebrate me – I’ll never feel like the mother I once was. I’ll never feel that way because I’ll always be without the father of my children.