The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 12, 2006


Dogwood (from the photo files of Ellen Huber)

Breakfast in bed . . . but still a motherless Mother's Day

For 15 years I was both a mother and a daughter on Mother's Day. While my children brought me breakfast in bed, presented me with their homemade cards and presents, and suggested ways for us to spend the day together, my heart pulled at me to be with my own mother, to show her the love and appreciation she so deserved. It was her day, not mine. Sadly I no longer face such a dilemma.

This will be my third motherless Mother's Day. I'd love to say that it hurts less than the first two, but my mother taught me not to lie. Actually, my mother taught me many things. I hear her voice in my own as I set priorities in my life, guide my daughters through adolescence and young adulthood, and console my son, "the baby," when he complains about life as the youngest in the family, just as I once did. And yes, I see her little quirks in myself. They used to drive me absolutely crazy, but now I find them so endearing. The only lesson in life my mother neglected to teach me was how to live mine without her in it.

It seems selfish, but I miss being her daughter. Sadly, my mom needed a lot of care throughout her life, and I welcomed the role of her caregiver. It seemed to add a whole new dimension to our relationship, and one that I treasured most. In a way, we had come full circle, although we switched roles. I've never felt more love for someone than I did when I mothered my mother. It just felt natural, and I am forever grateful for having had the opportunity to care for my wonderful mother.

A lucky daughter

I was so lucky to have a mother like her. She encouraged my dreams and comforted my disappointments. She never judged me as a parent and managed to offer words of wisdom without interfering. She was grateful for my love and affection yet generously forgiving of my shortcomings. To her, my successes were monumental, my weaknesses nonexistent. Being a daughter often felt like the only thing I did right. My mom was so proud of me, and I never realized just how much that meant to me or how much I would miss it.

So, here I am as Mother's Day approaches, waiting for the dogwood tree she gave me to bloom. I like to think that's her way of saying "Hi, honey" just as she would every time I called. Maybe a particularly hearty bloom will utter a few words of encouragement or a supportive phrase, perhaps "I don't know how you do it." I can hear her telling me that, as she did so many times, enabling me to forgive myself for losing my patience with the kids, or arriving late again, or living in, shall we say, a truly lived-in home. Her ever-loving words could lift me from feeling guilty to feeling downright proud for keeping it all together despite our crazy lives.

I know that I am not alone in celebrating what a friend so aptly termed a bittersweet Mother's Day. Too many of our hearts ache while we accept the love and appreciation our own children eagerly bestow upon us. It's like a rainbow shining through a thunderstorm. I think of those who comforted me when I lost my mother. First to come to mind is a friend who had lost her mother while pregnant with her third child and only daughter. Knowing too well what I was feeling, she compassionately sent me flowers on my first motherless Mother's Day. The fact that someone understood how much I hurt brought me solace. Another friend lost her mother in her early twenties. She knew just what to say when I called, sobbing about all the events in my children's lives that my mother would never see. How selfish of me; her mother saw even less. She didn't say "it will be okay" because she knew it never would be. This year, my dear friend will spend her first motherless Mother's Day. Another member of a club no one chooses to join. My heart truly aches for her.

Easing the pain

My intent here is to reach out to those mothers in Carlisle whose hearts and minds, like mine, will drift away from the blessed day they are sharing with their children as they long to celebrate Mother's Day with their own beloved mothers. I feel for each and every one of you. If it helps, what I try to do to ease the pain is cherish those aspects of my mother that I see in each of my children. Tess has her eyes and the genuineness and loving warmth that is so evident in their gaze. Georgia inherited her generosity and sense of humor. Owen is as nurturing and compassionate as she always was. Maybe in some way she is here with me on Mother's Day.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito