Mother’s Day Without the Mother

Mother’s Day is a bittersweet holiday for me. My daughters pay homage to me on the second Sunday of May and I appreciate their efforts immensely, but because I do not have a mother myself for whom I have done or can do those things, I greet their good wishes with equal parts affection and contempt. I’ve dreaded Mother’s Day since I was 11 years old and my own mother died. The phrase Happy Mother’s Day was eliminated from my personal lexicon. The words became nothing more than an annual reminder that my invitation to that particular party had been revoked.

Certainly other women came into my life over the years, many of whom had great influence over me, but no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t find a proper replacement for my own mother. I couldn’t find that one who would love me as I love my own children — unconditionally and with every cell of my being. Other women cared about me, but they had their own children, their own priorities, and their affections were limited. Their histories and experiences were with their own children. I shared no rites of passage with them. No battles over makeup, skirt length or dating. No advice about pre-marital sex, husband material or career paths. No ongoing sagas about my life and the mistakes I may have been making or the things I was doing right.

Still, as difficult as the holiday is for me I encourage my children to honor it because I believe it’s good for them to take a few moments to acknowledge how important a mother is in their lives.

I know my daughters appreciate that I have been here to tuck them in bed at night and greet them the following morning, to prod them into eating well, doing their homework and cleaning their rooms, and to make sure they always do their best. Each is grateful that when she feels scared or hurt or betrayed or believes her world is falling apart, I prove that someone loves her completely and without limit or reservation.

And I am grateful beyond measure to be here with them.

But behind my Mother’s Day smile my heart aches because after all these years, even though I am a grown woman with children of my own, and even though I know how to look after myself, I still long for someone to do all those things for me.

A mother’s death leaves a hole in one’s heart that neither joy nor happy memories nor love from a new family can mend completely. Most days, I live fairly easily with the loss, but on certain occasions — her birthday, my birthday, Mother’s Day — the hole in my heart feels as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon.



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Mother’s Day Without the Mother
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Everlasting Love
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