Surprise, Mother’s Day is hard for me.
(Even as a mother, it always has been hard. The expectation of doing something fun to celebrate, when, really, all I want is the impossible: to rest and relax. Preferably with a cocktail.)
As Mother’s Day approached, my friend Andrea Scher posted something on her blog about making a “Love List: What Your Mama Really Wants.” Creating a “love list” is simply creating a list of the 10 things you love most about the person – your mother, in this instance – and giving it to them. It was a lovely post that captured what a gift it was to give and receive such a thing. It even featured photos of me participating in such an event.
And as soon as I read the title – What Your Mama Really Wants – I knew no truer words had been written. Not only would my mother love such a thing, the love list is what she is searching for in every gift, in every conversation.
And I knew, without a doubt, that there was no way I could make one for her.
This did not make me feel good.
I pictured myself giving her such a list, and her reaction. There would be an avalanche of tears. And suddenly, I was 15 again rolling my eyes into the back of my head. (This, too, did not make me feel good.) Nope, I thought, can’t do it.
I think I am officially off the ride. I am over trying to convince her of my love. I am over having all my gestures and words measured, treasured, and then set aside. Because there is no filling up that hole. And trying to is as satisfying as smashing your head into the wall.
One Mother’s Day, one of us called her late in the day. I don’t remember what time it was, but the call apparently came in too late to “count.” So when she was wished, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!” she said tersely, “Yes, it was,” and hung up on her kid.
That’ll teach you.
This year, my kids were busily making cards for me and having their dad buy extra cards and flowers. My little boy’s card was something he’d done in school and read things like, “I like you a lot,” and all the usual stuff. My girl’s card was a familiar, “You’re the best mom in the world! I love you so, so, so, so, so, so much! I really love you!” and variations of the same until the card was filled. “I didn’t know what else to say,” she told me as I read the card.
And then it kind of hit me – why this Mother’s Day stuff was driving me nuts. It’s the expectation that “Today is the day that you express your love and gratitude” even if, well, you’re just not feeling it.
“Come here, you guys,” I said to the kids. “Let’s have a Mother’s Day conference.” I pulled them into the corner of the living room, where we have serious talks (and also snuggles). “I want to tell you something. I really appreciate the cards you made me and the flowers. But I want you guys to know something. For me, every day is like Mother’s Day. And that’s because every single day you guys make me feel loved. Every single day I know you love me, I can feel it. I know that you love me and I know that you appreciate me, because you guys make me feel that way every day. So thank you for that. I love being your mama.”
Because, really, to have a mama who doesn’t need or look to the cards and gifts as a measure of the love? To be that mama? That is a gift, and it’s a gift worth sharing.