the two sides of Mother’s Day
It has taken me 29 years to figure this out. I’m just glad that it happened that early. I think a lot of people never come to this realization for themselves… but rather, just merrily (and sometimes obliviously) chug along with their lives. My realization? There are definitely two sides to every Mother’s Day.
Side One: “happy” Mother’s Day
This is the side most people are happy to admit they celebrate. They love their mothers, they want to honor them. They may have children that they may also love, and are honored by their kids too. This is the “happy” Mother’s Day. It’s the one acknowledged by Hallmark, and by all of those gushy television commercials urging folks to go out an purchase that perfect gift “just for mom”.
I have celebrated this “happy” Mother’s Day my whole life. And, while I knew about other people’s struggles either with infertility, child-loss, mother-loss, or mother/child estrangement… it never really applied to me. The closest I would have come to this was when we had our miscarriage… but even then, by the following Mother’s Day I was pregnant with Rachel, and so tried to not dwell on the fact that our first baby would have already been about 7 weeks old.
Side Two: “unhappy” Mother’s Day.
Due to the recent events in our family, this Mother’s Day is vastly different from previous years. No phone calls, no cards, not even any e-cards. I love my mother, but am having a difficult time “honoring” her this year. I pray next year there has been enough healing to be able to change that…
But, it has made me think more. About the children whose mothers are no longer on earth with them. About the children who wish they knew where their mother was, or maybe even who their mother was. About the mothers who have lost children. This hit home especially hard today when our pastor was talking about a family who lost their child this morning… such deep grief… I cannot imagine.
In addition, events that have become painful for me as I share in other people’s burdens have cleared my “happy” vision. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m not happy today, far from it! I just have a deeper sense of appreciation for the gift that I have in being able to be a mother. Even today when we went out to lunch after church, and Eli pitched a screaming fit so I had to leave the restaurant with him and we had to take our food home to eat… EVEN THEN, I was glad. Glad that I was the one chosen to be his mother. Glad that I have the unique ability to calm him when no one else can. Thankful for the bond that we already share after 19 months of his life. Same with Rachel. This morning, she pitched a screaming fit about not wanting to take a bath. I was happy to be able to wrap her up in her towel, dry her off, get her dressed, and fix her hair. Happy that my voice was able to calm her tears, happy that in her distress she wanted me to hold her closely and snuggle with her (she’s getting so big!).
I know a lot of mother’s look forward to Mother’s Day as a day “off”. A day when maybe ‘dad’ takes the kids somewhere, or she gets to escape… and trust me, there are days when a little alone time would be amazing! But, overall, I wouldn’t trade anything that I have for a million years.
I know this is a little rambly and unorganized, but for the first time my eyes have been truly opened to the pain that these days can create within people. But I’m glad. I’m glad that it’s painful, because the pain makes my joy in my children all the more precious because I am able to recognize them as gifts.
So, to the mothers out there… I hope you have had a “happy” Mother’s Day. Don’t rely on this day to make the others worthwhile. Find joy in every day.