Thursday, May 9, 2013

Some (almost) Mother's Day Reflections

This is, by far, the most personal post I've written. Please bear with any rambling incoherence. I'm already typing through tears, which may or may not be good for editing.

I've seen this blog post floating around the web this week, and it usually brings with it a firestorm. I'm sure the same was true last year, but I was too buried under pregnancy and grading to notice.

Anyway, since Mother's Day is always a struggle for me, I want to share my own thoughts.

My mom died when I was 17. It was Christmas Break of my junior year of high school. She'd been fighting round 2 of breast cancer for 2 years after a decade-long remission. She was my mom, but she was also my confidant. And oh, how she would have loved being a grandmother! I still miss her It's not an open wound or something that I dwell on or feel like I'm still in mourning or anything. It's just that sometimes, a girl needs her mom, and no substitute-mother, no matter how well-meaning, loving, or wonderful is ever quite the same.

Mommy, Me, and Baby Sister

I don't say any of that to discourage those wonderful women in my life or to discourage those who are wonderful women to other people who need moms. I don't say any of the above to elicit sympathy. It just is.

Over the years, I've tried various ways to deal with Mother's Day. Honor all the moms. Ignore it. Put on a happy face. Cry my eyes out. Do all of the above in one day. Heck, I even managed to snag the guy I married on Mother's Day. (True story -- we count Mother's Day as our dating anniversary, even though our first official date was the next day.)

But for years, as a woman with neither mother nor child, I felt like that shell. I felt incomplete. Inadequate. I always thought that being a mom would fix that. But it hasn't.

Don't get me wrong. I love a good celebration as much as the next guy gal. I know that in years to come, I'll cry over handmade cards and gifts and Mother's Day hugs. I delight in my daughter and pray to delight in other children in years to come. Being a mother is the greatest gift I have ever received for so many reasons.

My brand-new Little Blessing

There's just a part of me that wishes my mom were here to enjoy it. We'll never share Mother's Day brunch or a long phone call or or or and that makes me sad. And I don't think that little bit of sadness will ever really go away. Mother's Day will always be bittersweet. A little bitter along with all the sweetness in the world.

I'm not saying that we should stop celebrating Mother's Day because some of us who have lost mothers or who have lost children or who bear other crosses, like infertility, might be feeling sad. I'm not saying that churches should stop blessing or thanking or praying for mothers. God knows how much we need them. So much so that He gave His only Son an Immaculate Mother.

I'm just saying that we should take a moment to notice that woman next to us in the pew, or at brunch, or at Hallmark and recognize that maybe, just maybe, things aren't so easy for her. A little compassion goes a long ways. A smile. A nod. A hug. A word.

At the same time, if you know someone is struggling, let them take the lead beyond that. From personal experience, it's a personal experience. All of the well-meaning sympathy in the world can feel as burdensome as all the celebrations in the world. A smile. A nod. A hug. A word.

The three of us in Charleston the summer before Mom's diagnosis.

And to all of you whose crosses are as heavy as mine this weekend, please know that I'm praying for you.

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