This Sunday is Mother’s Day. On that day, I’ll be helping my kids celebrate their Mama with homemade crafts, bear hugs and drooly kisses. A selfie or two will be taken. We might have ice cream. There might even be an impromptu song or dance routine. I am looking forward to it and happy to thank G for the many, many wonderful, tiring and sometimes unsung things she does for the kids and our family.
Exactly four weeks later, I will be celebrating the life of my own mother on what will be the five-year anniversary of her death.
Mother’s Day: A day we remember and acknowledge all the women in our lives who have meant something to us – grandmothers, aunts and of course, our moms, even (especially) those who are no longer here.
For me, Mother’s Day has meant different things, at different stages of my life.
In the beginning, my brothers, sister and I showered mom with the best gifts the elementary school Mother’s Day sale could provide – flowers, mainly pansies in pink and purple, sold outside the cafeteria and of course, purchased for my mother using her own money (who else would remember to provide the dollars, along with lunches and field trip permission slips?).
As I got older, it meant giving mom the night off by taking her out to eat; a marginally successful event attributed to our perpetual lack of reservations (we clearly never learn) and that fact that long restaurant waits coupled with a family prone to extreme “hangry-ness” always equaled at least one person sulking in the car and an aggravated mother wishing she had just made the damn dinner at home.
After college and moving away from home, it meant destination celebrations – meeting in Atlantic City, Washington, DC or New York City to raise a fun and flirty cocktail in her honor, some coconut-scented concoction with a name like “The Bikini Martini”.
On all these days we recognized my mother, officially thanking her for all that she did to keep us in line, something we truthfully didn’t do or say often enough.
We celebrated “her being her” – the quirkiness, wry humor and deadpan wit she passed on to us. Her dedication to having the right “costume” for the right moment and for teaching us the importance of committing to the part. We celebrated her sense of justice and for instilling the same in us and we celebrated her loyalty and the fierceness in which she would spring to our defense. While tiny in stature, you crossed her at your own risk – and usually – at your peril.
We celebrated what we knew we had, what we loved and what we appreciated but perhaps took for granted, never once thinking that one day she would no longer be raising her glass with ours.
Now that I am a parent with two young children of my own, I see this day in a new way.
It should be noted that I am not personally recognized on Mother’s Day. That day is reserved for Mama and rightfully so. My day comes later in June, lumping Baba in with Dads and Papas and Grandpas and I am fine with that. While that makes logistical sense (at least to me), it also makes emotional sense as G is this family’s mother-ship, the maternal touchstone in our home. This is HER day and it’s one in which we all work together to try and show our love and appreciation for the never-ending, hard-yet-loving work she does for us.
I like Mother’s Day. It makes me happy and even now, I am more light-hearted at watching the joy in my 4-year old’s face as he gives G his crayon-written love note then sad that my own mom is more than just a phone-call away.
Do I miss my mom? Hell, yes. And it never gets less real.
I am still startled by the white-hot anger that rushes over me when I think about how quickly we lost her. I get pangs of sadness when I read these “I love you forever” children’s books to my own kids. I have been known to get teary in Target after seeing a mom my age out with her own mother, casually strolling the toy aisle. I’ll bet in that mundane moment, that woman doesn’t realize how lucky she really is.
One of my saddest points was the moment I knew I would never shop with my mom again. We would never eat free samples at Costco together, never dodge the same annoying neighbors in the grocery store, and never again laugh inappropriately at a strangely-worded sign or label. We would never have those moments together again.
While my mom never got to meet my children – or any of her grandchildren – I know that she would be insanely proud. Proud of the high standards in which G and I raise them and equally proud of our ability to laugh and find the absurd humor in it all.
Proud of my commitment as a parent and even though she’d likely never really understand what exactly a “Baba” is anyway, she would know I strive to be the very best one. She would adore in these kids, love them within an inch of their lives and while she might roll her eyes at the title, secretly embrace her role as their “New York Nana”.
This Mother’s Day, I want to shout out to ALL those women out there who make a difference. Step-moms, grandmothers, aunts – even big sisters who take the reins in loco parentis. And of course, I celebrate all you moms.
Whether you are with us or separated by geography, circumstance or greater, on this day and every day, we appreciate you, honor you and love you more than you’ll ever know.