Mothers. It’s complicated.
Being a mother. Having a mother. Not having a mother.
It’s all complicated.
The truth is Mother’s Day can be a lousy day a lot for some people for various and unique reasons.
Not everyone has a mother on earth.
Some have a mother who is alive, but absent from them.
Some are truant by choice; others are not present because of geography.
And, it must be acknowledged that not everyone is a mother.
Some are not mothers by choice; others are without children by fate.
Further, not every mother has her child here with her on earth…
And, not everyone has a mother who is emotionally available to them.
Not everyone has the mother they wanted.
And, some are not the mothers they want to be.
There is guilt.
There is love.
Mothers. It’s complicated.
Many of us are walking down broken roads we never expected to be on. Days like Mother’s Day can pronounce what we’ve lost, what we want, or what we never had. Days like Mother’s Day can enunciate what is missing in our lives. I am fortunate. I have children and I celebrated Mother’s Day with them. I know this is a luxury that not every mother has. So, why did I still feel unsettled?
I felt off kilter because spending the day with my children is not all that is required for a successful Mother’s Day.
These days are about family too.
A mother is not complete without her children; and, likewise, a wife isn’t complete without her husband.
I feel restless on Mother’s Day because he is missing.
Without him, my family doesn’t feel complete.
I was in the store the other day and I wandered to the card aisle to read some of the Mother’s Day cards in the Wife section. I instinctively knew the card he’d pick for me. And, I stood awkwardly in the aisle reading the card “For my Beautiful Wife”. This is what life is like when your husband dies… You have to pick out your own Mother’s Day card from your dead husband; and, then you have to resist actually buying the card for yourself. In grief, you do things you never imagined yourself doing. Life becomes a whole new level of weird. Anyhow, in that moment, standing in the card aisle, I knew his arms were still around my life. And, I’m grateful. I’m proud that he picked me to be the woman he wanted to buy cards for from the Wife section.
Life got busy on the days leading up to Mother’s Day and I didn’t give the day a lot of thought. I assumed that it was my day to share with my children, so I never properly prepared myself to miss him on this day. Aside from the scene in the card aisle, I never considered how Mike would affect Mother’s Day. And, honestly, it’s been 18 months, and I have begun to regularly caution myself that not everything has to do with Mike; but, clearly so much still does for me. Without Mike, many of my days are somewhat bittersweet; and, not surprisingly, Mother’s Day was no exception.
On Mother’s Day, I reminded myself that I am not the mother of his children. Yet, I missed him regardless. And, I imagined what the day would have been like if he were still alive. Then, I felt guilty for not being present with my children because, at the heart of it, I know that I have a good life. My children are here with me and this should be enough. Except that it wasn’t.
Like always, I am endlessly imagining if he was alive… I know he would have kissed me good morning, and then wished me a Happy Mother’s Day before my feet even hit the floor. Then, he would have told me to “stay in bed Sweetie. I will started the coffee for us”. On ordinary Sundays, Mike would look at me with pride as I moved around the kitchen making breakfast for the boys. He would stare at me and regularly announce “Honey, you are the best Mom”. If he was still alive he would have rallied the boys and he would have lead them in making Sunday breakfast for me because after all it’s my day. In truth, Mike didn’t wait for a special occasion to treat me well. He celebrated me every single day. And, as he openly adored me, my boys were unknowingly learning how a woman should be loved by watching a man – who wasn’t their Dad – love their mother. My children are now without his strong influence and good example; and, as a mother, I deeply aware of the depth of their loss. Both my boys would have become better men because of Mike’s presence in their lives. With time, I have learned that it is not just me who has lost Mike. My boys have lost out too. Our family is now without him. I know that Mike wishes it was different for me, and for the boys. Somehow, I know that his arms are still around the boys. He will watch over them and continue to influence and guide them when he can… Maybe this is Mike’s Mother’s Day gift to me.
Without Mike, the boys did celebrate me; and, it was lovely. But, it wasn’t the same. Our little family felt smaller. And, I felt Mike’s absence despite the presence of my boys. Of course I feel incredibly guilty about this. I feel terrible writing this. And, I feel horrible admitting this to myself and to you. But, it is true. It is what it is. This is life now. And, this is grief. I missed Mike on Mother’s Day for no reason, and for every reason.