This is the third Mother’s Day in the era of Covid19.
I’m not one to be concerned with receiving gifts, but I wondered what I might want to give myself…
The first gift I thought of is actually 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 in this era of Omicron? Would I wish to not be afraid? Or worried? Does “celebrating” seem out of place, or since life has cautiously opened up again, is it definitely a time for celebration?
But I’m not covered up in fear. Sure, I’m aware of a steady backdrop of ambiguity. And none of us have come through this pandemic unscathed. Some were riding out the storm with better built boats. But the seas have been uncertain for all and those waters had never been navigated before now – at least in our lifetimes. And there have been many, many deaths. Goodbyes not being able to be expressed.
So, like everyone else, it has had its effect on me. But I’m busy and distracted and careful. I try to focus on what I have control over.
And I don’t 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.
Would I wish for time to travel backward so I could re-experience being a mom of a young child? Maybe I could look again into my child’s eyes. (My child of now almost 28 years of age…). Feel his sometimes joyful, sometimes needing comfort, hugs.
But that’s fantasy. So, no. That’s not possible. And if I were aware I’d need to travel back to the present, it would be inestimably difficult.
The gift I can give myself..
So what to do? What could my gift to myself be?
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.
They’re 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. Trying to be artsy while building a puppet theatre or his own Monopoly-like game, our 6 year-old son delighting in our final product. (Me – wishing that I’d taken that art course). Or figuring out how to manage teenage angst with me simultaneously in menopausal angst. Driving away from his college with alligator tears rolling down my cheeks, no longer held back out of attempted respect for his obvious excitement. Or 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.
His favorite 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.
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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Originally published on May 9, 2020; updated and republished on May 7, 2022.