Monday, June 9, 2014

Mother's Day: It's Complicated

Well, this post is a few weeks late, but honestly, it's taken that time to digest my feelings about Mother's Day. To put it succinctly; it's complicated. Whether you think it is a Hallmark holiday, or whether you believe that it's really all about celebrating motherhood and the mothers we know and love, if you are a loss mom, it's complicated. In reading various facebook posts around the day, I realized we are not alone: Mother's Day is hard for lots of people. It's hard for people who have lost their mother, for those who never knew her, for those who have difficult relationships with their mom, for those who are divorced/separated/unpartnered, for those struggling with infertility who dearly wish to be moms and dads, and probably for lots of other people, too.

I've tried two different ways of celebrating in the almost two years since we lost our daughter.

Year 1: complete avoidance. This entailed bailing on the multi-generational family brunch tradition and going for a mani/pedi and a sushi lunch with a friend going through a divorce. We both said our bah humbugs and got through the day.

Year 2: back to the brunch. My own Mom was really sad that we bailed on the brunch the year after our daughter died, so we decided to try it this year.  It was fine. But it was really a present to my own Mom, who wanted to see her kids and grandkids, and other family members gather together. It wasn't about me.

Now, it doesn't always have to be all about me. Really! But after having three children, and being pretty dedicated to the job of raising two of them and honoring the memory of the third, this is a role I'm invested in. And since there's this whole day dedicated to celebrating the art and craft of motherhood, the labor of love and selflessness that we apply ourselves to daily, it makes sense that I'd like at least part of the to be about ME as a mom, and not just about me as a daughter. Wrapped into all that is that on Mother's Day, as on Christmas and every family birthday, and other special days, there are clear reminders that our family extends beyond those present with us. My baby girl's absence is very present on those days and it makes them very hard.

I am thinking that next year I may have to find something constructive to do, to celebrate motherhood by taking part in something more than brunch. I wonder if I can dedicate myself to something on that day, maybe it will be less difficult. I'll be looking for meaningful volunteer opportunities to apply myself to.

This year, after a rare afternoon nap, I lounged on a blanket by the edge of a pond with our almost 1-year old baby boy. I relished his babyness. I kept him from eating acorns, sticks, rocks. It was a lovely capper to an emotionally strange and challenging day. Not a bad day, just a complicated one.

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