It is Mother’s Day. My mother left this earth in 2018, four years ago. If you still have your mother, let me be cliché for a moment and tell you to cherish every minute with her. Of course, you cannot do that, because well . . . life. But make your best effort, so you minimize your regrets. Loss is hard enough without regrets piled on there. If you have lost your mother, you do not need me to explain this to you.
My own children will have nothing to regret. Despite my myriad failings, they have always treated me with the utmost love and respect (save those few teen years when it is absolutely mandatory to disrespect your mom).
At first, it was a challenge (read competition) with my siblings and me to get Mom just the perfect Mother’s Day gift. We each wanted to give her the thing she’d put on the mantle, hang on the wall, wear to church, cherish forever. Eventually, we gave the battle up as a lost cause and started joining forces and funds. “What are we getting Mom for Mother’s Day?” The question would arrive from one of us via text or phone call, followed by several weeks of brainstorming and then the inevitable punt… flowers, card, lunch out, etc. Oh sure, sometimes we’d hit it out of the park, but it was more like a Little League Park with a short fence.
But still, I miss it. I miss trying to please my mother and having her be – at least temporarily- pleased. I miss Mother’s Day lunch with her. Aside from her birthdays, Mother’s Day was really the only day dedicated solely to her. Though she protested, “you don’t need to go through all this fuss for me,” she’d say. As my sister and I became mothers ourselves, Mom sent us Mother’s Day cards, sometimes a little gift. You see, she wasn’t always on point with practicing what she preached.
As Mother’s Day 2022 approached, I knew my own children would honor me appropriately. They always do. We don’t even go through the whole “you shouldn’t have” routine. They are fine people. They do what is right. It would be a waste of all our time to protest and complain about all the “fuss” gone through, or the money spent. I just them to do what they are able and what their hearts lead them to do. I say, “thank you, and I love you.”
On Mother’s Day, I miss Mom and the gifting dance, silly as it was. I miss the Mother’s Day card from her with “Love, M & D” on the signature (D had zero to do with it).
So, this year, I bought a Mother’s Day gift that is both to me from her, and from her to me. The necklace is my name, in her handwriting. I loved the way she made the D in Diane. She named me Diane (like the Mother’s Day card, I’m sure Dad had nothing to do with it), and I wanted this little memento of that. I have wanted one since she died, but just kept putting it off. Mom did not buy things for herself when we were kids, and my sister and I picked that up as correct behavior for mothers.
Whenever I see my name in her handwriting, it triggers something in me that I cannot explain. There are no words in any dictionary or thesaurus that can aptly describe it. Believe me, I have tried. Her penmanship was beautiful, but she would say “I beg to differ.” I have some elements of her handwriting in my own, but where hers was Monet, mine is Picasso (yes, you can kind of see it, if you squint).
I pulled the example that I gave to the jeweler from the back of this picture of my Piglet and me, circa 1979. There we are, having a great time, smiling for Mom’s camera, unknowingly future mothers ourselves. As a brief aside, Piglet is extremely cold natured now. But, once upon a time she could build a snow family in nothing more than a cardigan, often without shoes. I remember this day well. I remember Mom smiling and enjoy us, enjoying the snow.
Although her absence leads us to romanticize the reality, Mom was not perfect. She would be the first to tell you she missed the mark sometimes. But then again, we ALL miss the mark sometimes; right? What makes it hard on mothers is that they are so heavily relied on to guide the family, and society measures us by how our children turn out. What a gigantic job! But she did the best she could.
I know the world is full of wounded people who have no fond memories of their mothers, or none, fond or otherwise. I find that tragic. Imperfect as she was, my mother is something I turn back to as a touchstone to my roots. Some people are raised by heroic mothers with angel wings. Others have horrific tales of being raised by women with no maternal instincts. But most of us have ordinary mothers, who lead and stumble with love. Romanticism paints my mother with angel wings, reality acknowledges the stumbles – my heart recognizes the love.
Mom is still with me in my writing. She, herself, aspired to write when she was young, but a teacher’s careless words put an end to that. The stories of her life have made their way into my stories (names changed to protect the guilty), and so I get to share the craft with her and thank her for the contribution.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.