My mother and aunt had an extremely close relationship with their mother. Ma’am was an extension of our family, more so than most of my friends grandparents. She was a part of our everyday lives. We vacationed together, stopped by her house almost daily, or she stopped by ours. We took day trips, spent night after night at her apartment, went with her to test drive new car purchases, pushed her cart when she grocery shopped, Ma’am was in every great memory of my childhood.
When I was in high school, Ma’am died. My mom was lost. My dad said he had officially buried two mothers. Mother’s Day lost its gusto.
My mom hid the first Mother’s Day, being a Pastor’s Wife she was expected to attend that Sunday Morning Service, but her heart wasn’t in it. She cried through every song. I felt I had failed her as a child. This was after all my day to celebrate my own mother, but the loss of her maternal guide had devastated her to a point of not caring that she was still a huge piece of that day in another’s life.
Years have past. I became a mother of my own, but never could I find a way to make my own mother appreciate Mother’s Day. At first I was blamed. I failed her, I ruined her Mother’s Day, I was the reason she cried. So I avoided the holiday. I pretended not to care or notice it had came.
I attended the church services out of obligation. I fix fancy lunches and served my sister-in-law and mother-in-law lovingly. I missed my own mother. Somehow the largest part of her life passing, took the joy that should have been there for those of us remaining.
Mother’s Day had become a ritual. One where you quickly sign a card, buy some flowers on your way home and exchange them without a word. Just pretending that I had been the perfect daughter. Putting out face to the world that I had experienced the relationship my mother and my Ma’am had. My heart breaking that we didn’t have those memories, those stories, that love.
As forty gets ever closer, I have gained an appreciation for my mother. A realization that the hurt in her life pushed her away from love. Or the love I expected. She was so scared of being abandoned she chose not to throw her whole self into someone. The constant reminders that the one person who never failed her was gone, the annual celebration of the life of the person she missed the most broke her. I am learning that my mother still loved me. She probably loved me as much as Ma’am loved her, but she couldn’t always show me because of the pain she was fighting.
I wish I could sit by my mother at church this year, take her out to lunch, tell her how much she means to me. Apologize for the words I said in my teens and my twenties. Simply say I love you, Mom without it being a phone call. I am thankful I still have her in my life. Too many will wake up this Mother’s Day with a missing piece, placing flowers on a grave, rather than delivered to a doorstep.
Mother’s Day, as joyous an occasion it is, is a difficult time for many. For the mother who lost a child, for the child who lost a mother, for the child who got lost in the pain. So to all the mothers who are reading, Happy Mother’s Day, to those who are hurting, my love is sent, to those who still have your mother, forgiveness is a wonderful gift. Time heals and brings understanding. The past will always be there, but the future is still to be designed. And to my own mother, if you are reading this, I love you.