This Mother’s Day won’t be like any other Mother’s Day.
For this is the Mother’s Day of Covid19.
My mind isn’t too much on gifts. But I wondered what I might want, if I got that opportunity.
The first gift I might wish for is far too dangerous, for it has to do with knowing when the light at the end of the tunnel will come, and where this particular tunnel will lead. And yet I know you have to be careful what you wish for. So do I really want to know the future?
Probably not. So I’m barking up the wrong tree with that one.
So how do I figure out what I actually do want?
It’s not that I haven’t dealt with death as a reality. It was part of our dinner conversation, as my dad, a funeral director, talked about what had happened that day at work. I sit with patients every day who are grieving the loss of a loved one, sometimes even a child.
Nor is it that I’m covered up in fear. I’m aware of a steady backdrop of transience and not knowing; like everyone else, it has its effect on me. But I’m busy and distracted and careful. I try to focus on what I have control over. Or will at least try to have control over.
It’s not that I want to avoid the day. I celebrate being a mom every day of my life. I went through infertility procedures for years and count myself as extremely lucky and blessed that we ended with a healthy child. I’ve had many patients who’ve suffered multiple miscarriages or stillborn children or babies that die in utero — and of course, those that can’t conceive at all after years of trying. Their pain is very different, very unique, and very real. It’s a grief that has to be trudged through, day after day. Hard decisions have to be made when others seem to have babies effortlessly.
Okay, maybe I think I know what I might wish for.
For my gift, I might wish for time to travel backward and take me with it. I’ve felt similarly when people I love have died. Or a special time in my life came to an end. I want to look into my child’s eyes. (My child of now almost 26 years of age…). I want hugs. I want to watch my husband and son act goofy in the kitchen as they try to work together to make a meal.
That’s my fantasy. Fantasies don’t make for reality however. And this is my present, like it or not.
So what to do? What could my gift be?
Perhaps it’s one I have to give myself.
On this Mother’s Day, I want to reminisce. Nothing can take away my memories. Not even the number 19. I want to hold close the memories of a time when the number 19 was simply the one in between 18 and 20. I want to design an intricate collage of mom memories that are celebratory or funny and will make me smile or cry or pray. They are mine and will always be mine. Moments that I’ll never forget. When I held my baby for the first time, while reeling from a tsunami of sudden responsibility and wondering what in the hell I’d done. To trying to be artsy while building a puppet theatre or his own Monopoly-like game, our son delighted in our final product. (Me wishing that I’d taken that art course). To figuring out how to manage teenage angst, those efforts sometimes working, mostly not – with me simultaneously in menopausal angst. To driving away from his college with alligator tears rolling down my cheeks, no longer held back out of attempted respect for his obvious excitement. To watching from afar as he began his first job and coped with being in a new world, a new culture, with new expectations — and me feeling lost, knowing that the only help I could give was support. Plus a pumpkin pie wouldn’t survive the trip to California.
Pride. Worry. Sadness. Delight. Anger. Mostly love. Always love — all gifts of motherhood.
But there’s one more gift I can give to myself.
I can add the memories from this Mother’s Day to my collage. I can embrace things as they are instead of focusing on what cannot be. There are many who are mourning loved ones on this day, and I can send up a prayer for them.
And rejoice in the blessing of being a mom.
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