I should have had this blog post all teed up for Mother’s Day but it was actually only after experiencing the day this year, that I could formulate my thoughts more coherently. You see, all the Mother’s Days that I’ve had since becoming a mother have been about grief. They’ve been about absence. And loss. I’ve expressed this loss a lot through this blog as you know – I can’t really read this old post without weeping a bit.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter how many times I told myself how lucky I was to have the life I had, or have the beautiful children I had. My feelings on and around the day were like one of those old fashioned brass scales, with the joy on one side and sadness on the other. The sadness was always heavier and it ALWAYS won. And then I read a tweet by KayliVee this Mother’s Day which said this:
And I thought: YES, that’s how I feel. Suddenly, when you least expect it, the day turns from a day of mourning to a day of celebration. You may still cry, and that’s okay. But they’re sort of tears of happysadness, that they were as wonderful as they were, and that they were YOUR mom, and instead of feeling intense feelings of anger, instead you just feel immense gratitude.
A few days ago I sat down with another mom from school, and she’s just experienced a rapid and traumatic loss of a parent. We spoke about how losing a parent becomes a kind of club, one you don’t want to belong to, but which only people who have experienced a similar loss can truly understand. We spoke about how vivid those final memories of them are, as their body begins to fail them, as they weaken, and how those memories are the rawest freshest ones, and how they haunt you.
What I told her is how powerful memory is, how it adapts and morphs. Those final moments will be with you, they will hurt immensely, but after years go by, they will fade into the recesses of your brain, and you will remember that parent you treasured as they were: so vital, happy and loving. And eventually the grief will make way for other emotions.
This Mother’s Day I looked around me, and saw all the mother figures that have played a bigger role in my life since my own mother died. I saw my mother-in-law with her zest for life, irrepressible sense of humour, her immense love for her grandchildren and for us. I saw my Dad’s new wife, her calm advice, her support when I had new babies, her praise and wisdom. I saw my mom’s sisters who take an active interest in my life. I saw my own sister, my sister-in-law and a sisterhood of old friends, some I’ve known since I was five. I saw new friends, most of whom I’ve met because we are mothers and our children share classrooms and playgrounds. And I thought, I may have lost a mother from this world, but I have gained an immeasurable amount of motherhood blessings in my life since then.
This Mother’s Day I held my two precious children so close and breathed in the smell of them (“Mom stop sniffing my hair!). Thought how lucky I was to have two healthy and happy babies, conceived so easily. These are all blessings I was aware of before, but on this day I simply felt that gratitude more keenly – there was so much joy.
And for the first time in eight years, I sat back and realised that the joyful side of the scale had won.
Happy (very late) Mother’s Day to you all.