For nearly 20 years, the second Sunday in May has arrived, bringing with it mixed emotions. As I ponder the significance of tomorrow, and honoring mothers, somehow I feel the need to be less than Hallmark-esque and write about some of the difficulties that surface during this time each year. There’s the pain of infertility, the overwhelming stress of being a single mother, the challenges of admitting the relationship with mom is less than perfect and the sadness of realizing she’s gone. I’m sure there are more. Those are just my personal difficulties with Mother’s Day.
My ex-husband and I tried for years, to no avail, to have children. I suspect there was a five-year period when every time I saw mothers with babies I was brought to tears, or nearly so. Mother’s Day was particularly difficult during this time, as were baby showers for friends and baby dedications at church. With every fiber of my being, I wanted to have children. Infertility made Mother’s Day a hard day! (Today I have four children, two by birth and two by marriage. For those struggling with infertility, my heart goes out to you.)
Said ex-husband and I separated in March 1998 when our daughter was two years old and our son was two weeks old. That Mother’s Day was more difficult than any of the previous years. The pain of going through a separation and divorce was harder than anything I’d experienced in life. I didn’t walk down the aisle thinking I would one day be a single mom. Mother’s Days that followed became less difficult (though Father’s Day became harder), as I grew into my role as single mother and my understanding that life is what you make it.
Although my mom was not June Cleaver, I’m not sure I actually noticed until much later in life. Like many folks willing to be honest, I grew up in a dysfunctional family. It was my normal. Mom and Dad fought all the time. My dad was domineering and my mom often assumed the role of victim. (That’s not easy to type for the whole world to see.) Momma was not ever the attentive type. Looking back now, I can see that she didn’t know how to be emotionally intimate. (She wasn’t equipped and likely hadn’t seen it modeled.) I guess that’s why choosing Mother’s Day cards for her became harder the older I got. I typically chose generic or humorous cards rather than those that were effusive with praise.
My mother died in December 2006 after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer. (My brother Terry and I spoke at her funeral. I cried through most of my part. I am an UGLY crier. Wasn’t even sure I could make it to the end at one point.) Just the other week I was looking through the Mother’s Day cards at Target, picking out cards for my mother-in-law, an older “like a mother” friend, girlfriends (one card in Spanish, though I only have a marginal idea what it said, but thought it would be fun to send), and a friend with no children. And there, in between the Girls 7-14 clothing and the card aisles, it hit me. I missed my mom. My eyes filled with tears. The lump in my throat that signals emotion was suddenly present.
Tomorrow will be a great day filled with love from my family and I’ll write about that. Today, I felt it important to share some thoughts on the more difficult side of Mother’s Day. I’m pretty sure there are others who know a bar or two of the Mother’s Day Blues.
Have you ever heard the Mother’s Day Blues? If so, what lyrics did you hear? What were/are your struggles with Mother’s Day?