I was at the supermarket balancing 6 month old Peter on my hip and purchasing groceries for a Mother’s Day Brunch for a small army, my shopping cart overflowing. At 30 years old it wasn’t unusual for me to put on a feast for 30-40 people. Doing take-out was never an option. “Wow, are you having a party?” the checkout clerk asked. Of course they always asked me that because, like my mother before me, my grocery cart was always piled high with food. The more you feed your family, of course, the more you love them!
“Yes.. a Mother’s Day Brunch. I wonder when it will be my turn to have a Mother’s Day?!” I said somewhat sarcastically and somewhat truthfully. My Mother’s Day would be spent standing in the kitchen over a hot stove! (Ha.. doesn’t that sound like something your mother would say?)
Be careful what you wish for.
By the following Mother’s Day my mother had succumbed to her battle with cancer and my mother-in-law had decided to go out of town. I was to have MY day.
Still grieving the loss of my mom, I was not looking forward to celebrating. My brother, Ronnie, joined us for brunch at a fancy shmancy hotel that had unlimited delectables and flowing champagne. I should have felt like a queen.
But when Peter pitched the tenth tater tot from his high chair as my other two sons egged him on and howled uncontrollably, I dissolved into tears. This was not the Mother’s Day I wanted. I wanted my mother back.
Gathering children, diaper bags, to-go containers, etc, we made a quick escape and headed for home. I slept for three hours and my brother, motherless as well, stayed and waited for me to wake up. I guess I scared everyone including myself with my emotional outburst in the restaurant.
It’s been 27 years since my sweet mother died and this day still brings back all those memories of her. It was a significant loss at a very vulnerable time in my life. I feel a bond with every woman who has lost their mother. What is it that we know in our tortured wisdom?
We know that without our mother, no matter what type of relationship we had with her- wonderful or complicated- maybe both- there is a loss and an empty place. We long for the bond we had or maybe the bond we never had with her. We grieve the unconditional love that only a mother can give. For everyone else we have to be strong or nurturing or unselfish or understanding. But for our mom we can just be who we are. And she will love us anyway. And we feel an acceptance and a tether that allows us to be in the world with an unshakable foundation.
For those of us who are motherless, the bottom has fallen out and we now take on the responsibility to be a mother for others- whether we are prepared for the significant task at hand or not.
Today I am thinking about one of our students at Presentation High School who just lost her mother tragically a few short weeks ago. She is 14 years old. My heart aches for her. Her wound will never heal.
And remembering my precious mom, Dorothy, on this special day.