This year, Mother’s Day is especially painful. Thanks to COVID-19, we have lost loved ones at an alarming rate. So, if this Mother’s Day is hard for you for the first time, I’m here to tell you it’s OK to sit this one out. It’s OK to say no to this holiday that feels like everyone is celebrating “at” you.
Mother’s Day means I can put flowers in the ground without fear of frost. It’s the commercial name given to my annual ok-to-plant day. It’s time for warmth and new growth. Any other reason to honor the day has been determined by someone else. Consumers are expected to spend $21.2 billion dollars in honor of Mother’s Day this year and I wonder if my plants are included in that total.
When I was seven I lost my mother to a car accident. It happened in February and I still had to make a Mother’s Day craft with the rest of my second-grade class in May. I was told she would still see it in heaven. That set the tone for the rest of my school days. Whether it was a craft to make or a poem to write, the day served only to twist the knife for what I didn’t have. I was the minority along with foster children and others who have lost. We are the ones you can’t plan around because then the majority suffers.
My Dad remarried when I was eight. I got a stepmother. I love her very much. But that only made this Mother’s Day thing more confusing. Other children of blended families must have felt the same way. A stepparent in the mix is certainly more common than the death of a parent. Am I supposed to celebrate her on this day? I wondered. Do I give her my homemade gift? If I do, am I betraying my other mom? It was a hard enough struggle to try and understand how I could love my stepmother and all of the opportunities that she brought to my life. It made me feel that if I appreciated my stepmother then somehow that meant that I was glad that my birth mother was gone. This prompted me to grieve my birth mother even more. I had to know that I still loved and missed her and in my adolescent head that meant that I must actively mourn her. Otherwise I’ve just forgotten about her, right?
As an adult I’ve wrapped my brain around it a little better. I understand that I am allowed to love them both. Now, I am a mother. I am both a bio-mom and a stepmom in a blended family. We’re a miss-matched perfect set of genetics and love on our second-time-around.
We don’t celebrate Mother’s or Father’s day. Knowing the stress it put on me as a child, the last thing I want to do is make my kids feel as if they are obligated on this specific day to honor me, analyze my title and place me in some pre-determined category. Who I am and what I mean to my children is as individual as they are. No. On Mother’s day we plant. We put flowers in dirt and let the commercial expectations of maternal celebrations pass us by. In mid-May there’s no danger of frost on the ground or in our hearts.