Jamie's Mother's Day Bouquet

On Mother’s Day…


Yesterday, a cashier at Home Depot handed me my receipt and said “Happy Mother’s Day.” I thanked her and said “Happy Mother’s Day to you” (or maybe Charles did). I was a little taken aback by that. I am indeed a mother. I have two grown kids and four grands. It is a role I place in high priority. But, how did the cashier know? Do I just look like a mother? What if I wasn’t a mother? What if I had just lost a child, or had spent my entire life in futile fertility trials? What if I was one of the many women today who just don’t feel the need to have children? How do those women respond to such a greeting? Do they accept the sentiment in the spirit it was given, say “thank you” and move on? Do they cry later? What happens there? It seems like such a benign thing to do, but then again I’m a happy mother, so the perspective is different.

Mother’s Day brings a mixture of emotions not just with mothers. Those who have or had horrible mother/child relationships have to decide how to navigate this day. With grace and forgiveness? With denial? With hate? My beloved, Charles, has terrible memories of his mother. The stories he tells about her me make me want to hug the little boy and his brothers who were raised by such a person, and keep them safe (retroactively). She died when he was just a kid, but mother’s day still creates emotions for him. It is hard to describe because I’m not him, but it seems to me like he feels the loss of the good mother he never had. Can you miss something that was absent all along? I think you can.

I grieves me to think anyone, especially someone I care so much about, did not feel a mother’s love. All mothers are flawed, all mothers make mistakes, but the mothers I know love their children so fiercely there is no question about it. Surely, God has shows a surplus of grace for those children who grew up without that that unconditional love. How else would they know how to have unconditional love without having been shown it by a mother.

My own mother passed away in 2018, and while I look forward to Mother’s Day because I have two great kids, I dread the emotions that come with the motherlessness of it. Sadness has a way of bleeding over into gladness on this day.

My daughter always sends a gift, usually flowers (those on the cover photo arrived yesterday). She knows how much I love flowers. Her love language is gifts, mostly the giving part. She cannot let any holiday pass without sending a gift. She loves the planning, buying, and wrapping, as much as the giving. She’s self professed “extra” in gifting. The best present she has ever given me was to bring her son into the world and embrace the destiny I knew was hers. She never thought she wanted to be a mother until she was.

My son sometimes sends a gift, but usually he calls me or sends a note of gratitude. The notes are never just a Hallmark card, but are well thought out, well written expressions of his appreciation of how I raised him and what he believes I’ve done for him. Truth be told he has done much more for me than I ever did for him. Plus, he’s paying all that back double because he is raising two athletic boys, not just one. My son’s love language is quality time, but when he can’t be here in the person, notes and phone calls are how he best expresses his love to me. Today was no different. He called early to avoid having the day take over. We talked about me, we talked about him, we talked about his kids. He has concerns about them, just like every good parent does.

I could not ask for two better gifts from God than my children and grandchildren.

Losing Mom was devastating for my family. We all mourn her differently, because she was a different person to each of us. I wanted to be like her, small, pretty, respectful. But I never was. We tend to admire the things in others we can’t be or have. I did that with Mom, we were so different. I try to honor her on this day with thoughts and actions. Today, I’m wearing the shirt we had made when we did the Breast Cancer Walk the fall after her death. It has a giant butterfly on the back. She loved butterflies, birds, flowers, all the signs of spring, and they seemed to love and respond to her in a magical way. Spring brings her to mind like nothing else. She always smelled like a mixture of the flowers she tended and Tide. When she visits me in dreams, that smell is the thing that comes through the clearest; the smell and the chuckle.

Mom often encouraged me to take clippings from her flowers to plant at my house. “Let’s dig you up some peonies,” or “pull out some of those irises, there are some pretty yellow ones back there,” or “the Rose of Sharon’s are taking over behind the house, get all you want this fall.” I’m so glad I did. Her peonies in my yard have never looked or smelled better than they do right now on this Mother’s Day.

I miss her terribly, but I always feel her presence. There is a Mom sized empty hole that, at the same time, is filled with her company. How can that be? How can I miss someone I always feel? I am both comforted and lost. I don’t know how, but I am. When I’m having trouble, there are times when only she knows the answer to an issue. Mostly, she just tells me to go with my heart (and “don’t listen to your Dad”).

I wish I trusted my heart as much as she does.

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