The Single Thought That Haunts Me Every Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is here, and once again, I fall short. No cards in the mail. No calendars ordered from Shutterfly featuring season-themed photos of the grandkids. No gifts en route.
Just me, my poor follow-through on the best of intentions, and a single thought that haunts me every year: one day, the jig’ll be up, and my extraordinary mom will be gone.
When that surreal day comes, Mother’s Day will be forevermore transformed. It will become an annual mess of heartache and joy, celebration and grief; a day in which the rich blessings of my own children and motherhood roil against the aching, endless absence of my own mother. This is a certainty. And yet, I live as if it will never happen.
Anyone else out there riding this train? You know, the train that travels at blinding speed, where one day disappears into the next? The train where your attention is always hyper-focused on what and whom is in front of you? Where you unthinkingly lavish your thoughts and gestures upon friends, colleagues, the grocery clerk, mom-friends, but a curiously disproportionate amount on your own mom, whom you adore and cherish and value beyond words? The train upon which your conscience whispers anxiously to you deep in the night, too late to remember in the morning, that one day your mother won’t be there to call?
Then, if you’re lucky — and recently I was — you’ll get a little wink from the universe. Mine was this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shelley-emling/loss-of-mother_b_5254725.html This beautiful piece reminded me, in the light of day, to stand up and take in a truth I spend a lot of time avoiding: One day, my mom will die. And on that day, I will no longer have the chance to get it right.
So while there’s still time, here’s a love letter in the form of five things I want my mom to know on Mother’s Day. I hope it serves as a message from all of us distracted, in-denial children to the moms who built us, and whom we treasure.
My actions do NOT speak louder than words. Regarding why I don’t stay more connected on a regular basis? I believe to my bones that the answer is 50% this ADD life, 50% magical thinking. As long as we don’t talk, you’ll always be there to talk. And if we talk too much, stay too connected, my chances of surviving life without you plummet. In fact, by constantly waiting for the perfect time to call you that never comes, I am actually ensuring your immortality! This makes no sense. And yet, so far it seems to be working beautifully!
Why do I still act like a sullen teenager to you, even though I have my own teenagers? No idea. Just know that when I do, I hate myself. When I do, I am ashamed of my lack of self-control. When I do, I am usually struggling with those parts of myself that you are mirroring back to me. It’s the DNA gift that keeps on giving. One day, Mom, I hope to be more at peace with all parts of myself, and then I will be a nicer person. Working on it!
My war of independence is over. I think. All those years I greeted your advice with stony silence, hostility and/or contempt? This was me, trying to figure out how to be me without you. The older I get — and especially as a mother myself — the more I appreciate how hard it is to keep one’s mouth shut to your kids when you know better. So let the record show: Mom, I admit that you know the best brand of olive oil, the only true age-defying face cream routine, and the way to cut tomatoes. I appreciate that you keep sending me articles on the importance of sleep (and that it even causes weight gain!). And I appreciate that you’ve wanted to send me five more articles about it, and haven’t. As I age, I open. And even if I don’t always show it, I deeply appreciate your perspective and advice.
I don’t tell you how I feel enough, and here’s how I feel. I love, admire and treasure you like I will love, admire and treasure no one else. Ever. You live in my head and my heart every single day, even if we don’t talk for long stretches. Your love for me merges with my love for you, and then runs through my veins. I can’t tell you that in person. Don’t ask me why. Just read this and know it’s true.
Let’s do better. Our time together is finite. We both know that, but I don’t think we always allow ourselves to know it. We’re too busy, and that feels better. We mothers and daughters, we spin in our own worlds, proving that we function perfectly well without one another. But the truth is, my heart beats with yours, and yours with mine. So let’s take our busy-ness and expose at least some of it for what it is: protecting those hearts from breaking. Let’s take this moment, this day, to honor our love for one another. Let’s sit with the truth that all we have is now, and we are so lucky to have it. And then let’s grab our time together here on earth, while we still can.