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 What does Mother’s Day Mean?

At first glance, Mother’s Day is a seemingly simple holiday. You spend the day with your mother and thank her for all that she has done for you. Easy right? Well, life is never really that black and white. A lot of times, life is lived in a very murky gray area, and our relationships with our mother’s reflect that tendency.

Me and my mom when I was a little whippersnapper!

Because let’s be honest, like with all family members, you can’t choose your mother. You get what you get and  learn to live with it. Therefore, we are forced to accept a very harsh reality of life: mothers are imperfect human beings too. Sure, we’d like them to be perfect, but mothers are actually highly fallible beings who fight, make mistakes, hug, love, cry, and frankly, don’t know the answers to a lot of life’s  unanswerable questions.

This reality of life means that some people don’t get along with their mothers or some people have mothers who choose to be absent from their lives. But whatever your relationship is with your mother, the significance of this day and the feelings evoked from it are highly variable, depending on the type of people that you and your mother are. But maybe that is where the inherent beauty of Mother’s Day lies. The meaning of this day is as diverse as the multitude of mothers that inhabit this planet. That’s why we each celebrate and commemorate our mothers in unique ways.  However, the one commonality that we all share is that we all of about our mothers on this special day.

What is Mother’s Day to me?

Three generations of crazy ladies. Me, my mom, and my grandmother. Like in most families, things were complicated.

I think of my mother every single day because I miss her every single day. She died almost five years ago, but I still catch myself picking up the phone to call her, but she is not there. There is no one to call, no one on the other end of that phone to tell me that everything will be okay. My heart drops and my eyes fill with tears as I feel the magnitude of her loss over and over again, with each fresh realization. My pain overwhelms me because there is no one to hold me and remind me that they will always love me and that they will never stop worrying about me. And even if other people say these words, it’s not the same as hearing it from my mother.

So as people buy their cards and order their flowers, I use this day as a day of remembrance. I replay my memories not for others, but for myself. I remember because I don’t want to forget her and how much she meant to me. I want her to live on and so I take her from the past and bring her into my present. This way, she never really dies because she is never really forgotten. She lives on in my thoughts, words, and actions.

So I revisit the fun times we shared. The times when we ate chocolate cake for breakfast or went sleigh riding at 11:00 pm at night. I love feeling how fun my mom was because that’s all I have to ease the pain of learning to live life without her. But it gets easier as you adjust to the new normal; a normal that doesn’t involve seeing her or talking to her. It’s like an alternate reality that you are forced to adjust to. And this reality is horrible, like the stuff that nightmares are made of. But then one day, somehow miraculously, this nightmare becomes okay, and then maybe even enjoyable, as new people enter your life and remind you that one day soon, you’ll finally be okay.

The Reality and the Fantasy

On this day, I also remember that my mother was not perfect. Yes, she may be gone, but that doesn’t mean she was a saint. She suffered from fear, anger, bitterness, jealousy, and resentment, just like the rest of us .It makes me sad that her life was plagued by all these toxic feelings, up until her very last days. when the morphine took over and my mother, as I knew her, was gone.

Me and my mom at my high school graduation. So happy I got her for a mother.

This sadness is different though. I mourn for my mother not because she is gone, but because she never really lived, at least not in the way she wanted to. Life just seemed to always get in the way and make things difficult for her. She grew up fast because she got pregnant in college. And unlike the social norms of today, this predicament meant that she had to get married and take care of her children. Therefore, her childhood completely dissipated in an instant, and she never really got to live a life of her own, a life for herself. She never ventured to far off lands or experienced cultures apart from her own. Instead, she lived out her dreams through the Amazing Race, a show that we always watched together. I would look at her and see the show instantaneously transport her into an alternate reality where all her dreams really had come true.

Sadly though, it was all just a television show. She never got the chance to travel. Sure, we had  booked a trip to Rome, the one place on Earth that she had always wanted to visit. And we were all packed and ready to go, but then she got sick. I remember that day well. She just had a cough that would not go away. So we went to the hospital right before our trip, just to make sure everything was okay. But it wasn’t. I was there with her, in the hospital, squeezing her hand, as the doctor told her that it was stage four cancer. She shook with fear and anger, but I just held on tightly because she had taken care of me my whole life. It was time that I returned the favor. So, I tried the best I could.

I love going through all of our great memories on Mother’s Day. Makes me feel like she’s still here.

Living in Her Memory

But it never felt like enough. No matter what I did, I couldn’t make her better. I couldn’t take her cancer away. I couldn’t change the circumstances of her life. I just didn’t have that kind of power. I felt distraught and like I needed to do something to fix it. But some things in life are unfixable, plain and simple. I had to accept that because unlike all of the Hollywood movies, where the doctors find some miraculous cure in the last twenty-four hours of the patient’s life, my mom died. But that wasn’t even the saddest part. The saddest part was that life just seemed to slowly move on, while my world just sat still, in total ruins. It felt like nothing and everything had changed, all at once.

I just didn’t get it. How could the world continue when my mom ceased to exist? She was my world and then in an instant, she was gone. It felt like I was just expected to move on without her. But then I realized that my mom was with me. She lives on through me as I live a life in her honor. I do this everyday by living the life that she never could. Yes life got in the way of her dreams, but I refuse to let it get in the way of mine. I will not be enslaved  by the eternal sorrow of, “what if”, and I know my mother would want it that way.

Mother’s Day Today

Today, I choose a different path, like I always do. I am quirky like that. It’s just in my nature. I travel and write and live all the dreams that my mother never could. So while she may not have lived the life that she wanted, that’s okay because I can live enough for the both of us. I will do, see, feel, and taste all the things that my mom never got to. And for me, that is enough. Not only because it has to be, but because I know my mother would be proud of me for never giving up on my dreams and finding happiness, in whatever form it comes. So on mother’s day, I  thank her (Thanks Mom! I love you). Our time together may have been brief, but you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing.