I don’t know how to celebrate Mother’s Day anymore. And perhaps I don’t need to know how. I could choose not to recognize the holiday at all. I told a friend this week that I didn’t think Mother’s Day would ever feel happy again unless I was a mother, the one being celebrated. Without my mom here, it feels like a ruse—like all of the air has been let out of a heart shaped balloon. It doesn’t feel special or momentous or good. And so I struggle with the lead up to the day, and with the day itself. Usually that Sunday morning I hide behind a fake smile and wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women at church. But it’s uncomfortable and makes my skin crawl. So in a weird way I’m thankful to be distancing socially on this Mother’s Day. I can just be me, and I can feel everything I’m feeling—whatever that is at the given moment.
Over the last few years I’ve highlighted other women who have been role models and mentors and surrogate mothers to me. Like my dear friend KSH who gives me life advice and words of wisdom, who always makes me laugh and reminds me it’s okay to dance to the beat of my own drum. She’s not my mom, but she sure does help provide comfort and confidence and so much compassion, all of which I’m thankful to have. I think about my mom’s two dear friends Rosie and Pam: how they’ve held onto us even after her passing—how we can share photos and memories, and how their love for her lives on in their love for each of us. It’s wonderful knowing their are others who keep a flame burning for her that we can call on if the need arises. I think of my sorority mom and all she’s been for me over the years. I think of my dearest friend who I call sister (as jokingly “mom”) who always has my back—through it all. I think of how each of them has helped mold me and I let myself momentarily slip into the land of “what if” and consider how my mom would react to my life decisions (the good and the bad) over the last few years. What wisdom would she impart? But that’s a future that will never be.
These last few months have reminded me that we don’t really know what the future holds. And that even though we should plan for the future, there is much anxiety and stress that goes into issues we can’t control—a reminder amplified by Mother’s Day. But worrying about the future is something I’ve done for years. There are somethings I need to just let be. There are somethings that I need to spring into action for in ways I never have. It’s a new balance that I’m hoping to embrace. So as we head into Mother’s Day, I’ll remember who my mother raised me to be (strong, witty, tenacious). I’ll embrace who I’ve become and who I continually strive to be (kind, vulnerable, eclectic, fearless). And I’ll remind myself to live in the now, takes risks, and celebrate even when it feels difficult. I may not enjoy everything going on around me. I may have a myriad of feelings at any given moment. I may not have (yet) reached all of my dreams for my life. But there is so much yet to come. And perhaps the way to celebrate Mother’s Day for me in this time is recognizing the big moments in my own life and knowing she’ll be here for every minute of it, in her own way. Perhaps that is the greatest gift of all.