Well, I survived.
I did my best to not dwell on my first Mother’s Day without my mom. I stayed focused on other things. The kids. Studying. Our Whole30. Who knew eating ‘clean’ could be such a blessing during this really difficult time! I guess because it’s so new, it still takes a lot of planning and reading and shopping and chopping. It leaves little time for moping. Or dwelling. Or melancholy.
The other (obvious) thing – mom is in a much better place. She is Peggy again. Or Dorris. I guess it depends on who she is with up in heaven. If she spent her Mother’s Day with her mom – she was Dorris again. If she were with Daddy and the little baby that died at 7 days old – she was Peggy. Either way – she was whole again. Her mind was working. Her thoughts and memories were opened and available for her to enjoy.
Last year on Mother’s Day weekend we were in Dallas with mom in the hospital. They’d found that three foot blood clot in her leg and needed to put the filter in so as it broke up, pieces wouldn’t enter her heart or lungs. She had no idea, but she was a STUD! In on Friday evening and back to rehab on Sunday night. Physically, she was strong. I was such a drill sergeant.
But it didn’t keep me from missing her. And more than that – this haunting feeling that I was forgetting something all week prior. I “knew” I didn’t have to buy a gift or a card or mail anything or bake anything or plan anything…but I “felt” like I did. I mean, for the past 50 years I’ve made something. Done something. Celebrated her.
No matter how bizarre our relationship was – Mother’s Day was always Mother’s Day. I appreciated her being my mom. I always wanted that traditional mother/daughter love. I always wanted her to feel – and show – that overwhelming emotion that mothers have for their daughters (not all daughters, I get that, but my ideals from books and movies and around my friend’s dinner tables) for me. And, on Mother’s Day, we could always pretend. Make a good show of it.
I bought the card. I worried over the perfect gift. I bought flowers I couldn’t afford. I made meals and phone calls and drove miles and miles. And she beamed. Mom loved to be celebrated. She loved to be the center of attention. And she appreciated me when I got it right – or almost right. Mother’s Day (and Christmas and her birthday) were days that she adored me. She was proud of me. She told people she was proud of me. She ‘showed me off’ at restaurants and during phone calls with her family. We took pictures with our arms around each other.
I missed that on Sunday.
My kids made me cards and bought me gifts and drew pictures (and yes, I know they are probably too old for that – but they know I love it when they handmake something for me!!) and gave me complete control of the tv remote. They cleaned their rooms. They asked what they could do to help me at dinnertime. They didn’t fight or spat or push each other’s buttons.
I don’t think the kids realized that I was sad. I don’t think they thought about me missing mom on Mother’s Day – because they knew her after Alzheimer’s. And why on Earth would I tell them about all the years I poured myself into Mother’s Day for her – but really probably for me? I guess seeing it typed out, it was selfish behavior. Oh, but how I loved those special days where it felt like I was a good daughter. The right kind of daughter.
Anyway, I survived my first Mother’s Day without mom. Truth is – she was with me. She always is. I am her. Not all of her. Not even the best or worst of her. But I hear it in my phrasing. I know it when I fight for something I believe in. As I shop the sale racks first and put on my sensible shoes and enjoy my morning coffee. Like they say….
“If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother!”