A kind Mother’s Day, after many difficult ones

IMG_0206I’m not

Ungrateful.

I’ve been

Blessed with

Four children,

Miracles, all.

And my mother was

Love,

Steady and unconditional.

And yet,

Mother’s Day has always been

One of my

Least favorite days of the year.

When I was younger,

Mother’s Day

Felt like a commentary on

How far I fell short

As a daughter,

As a teenager and

Young adult

I scoffed at the

Notion of Mother’s Day–

In front of my mother,

No less.

“It’s manufactured by the

Greeting card and

Floral industries

To prey on our guilt,”

I would declare in my

16-year-old attempt at

Worldly cynicism.

“Oh, honey,”

My mom would sigh.

In college, I’d usually remember to

Get her a card,

And I’d take a deep breath and

Give her a hug–

I was not

A hugger.

I’d relent and

Attend church with her on

Mother’s Day,

Squeamish as I sat in the pew

At the dogma I didn’t

Buy into,

Keeping silent during during the

Chanting of creeds and the

Singing of hymns,

Judging her raptness and joy.

I don’t want to

Self-flagellate here.

I think–

I know–

My mother loved

Being a mom to me.

There were parts of me

She treasured and was even

In awe of.

But Mother’s Day was a

Reminder of how

Unwilling I was to

Meet her emotional needs

Except at the most

Cursory level.

I don’t think of the universe or

God as punishing,

But later in my life,

When I became a mother myself,

Mother’s Day turned hard against me

And I did imagine some

Karmic justice for how I’d

Rolled my eyes through

So many Mother’s Days.

After my divorce,

My little boy spent

January to June with his dad

Overseas,

And I spent

Four Mother’s Days,

2008, 2009, 2010, 2011,

Separated from him by

Eight time zones

And an ocean.

This was also the time when

My mother was

Fading with Alzheimer’s.

So I spent those Mother’s Days

Skyping in the morning with my son,

His little face

Pixelated,

And me drinking in

Every little facial expression,

Every little movement

Of the small body that

I couldn’t touch

Over the ether.

And then I would

Hang up with him

And sit with my

Confused, dying mother.

Those Mother’s Days were

Hell.

By the time I started getting my boy

For the school year–

And therefore,

For Mother’s Day–

And had myself

Another joyful little

Boy,

And connected more deeply

With my stepkids,

My mom was

Gone.

So for me,

Mother’s Day has been about

Loss.

Which doesn’t mean I’m not

Grateful for my

Children and for my

Mother.

Gratitude is a practice that

Likes to nestle under the wing of

Other emotions,

Even and sometimes especially

Grief.

This year was lovely and

Soft and

Sad.

The weather mirrored my emotions:

Peeks of sunshine between

Torrents of rain.

There was a morning romp in

Bed with my boys,

And then a visit to my mom’s

Grave on a

Windy slope at

Fort Snelling where

I laid down a

Bouquet of pink and purple flowers and

My first boy and

My baby boy

Raced each other down

Rows of uniform

Marble headstones.

I had brought a small,

Metal heart charm

I found in my jewelry box,

Pocked and battered-looking,

A little misshapen,

And I pulled the

Thick green grass

Away from the

Base of Mom’s headstone,

And we slid the heart down the

Base of it,

Into the earth

And left it there,

Buried,

Safely protected from the

Wind.

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