There’s no way to unsubscribe from Mother’s Day.
Reminders are all around – text messages to buy Mom gifts, social media posts reminding you to not forget Mom, and ads showing you the food to make Mom on her special day. But what if all those reminders and seemingly innocent marketing ploys are killing some of us?
I can remember the last Mother’s Day I celebrated with my mom. We stopped by my sister’s house for brunch with my entire family, then my mom and I buggered around town, as she liked to call it. We went to stores she liked and did some hardcore window shopping, we ate Mexican food with my dad, then we just relaxed together. It was a lovely, very normal day for us. For her gifts, I made her homemade sangria, purchased this cabinet she’d liked at an art festival, and gave her a Deep Purple CD. Yes, my mom still listened to CDs in 2008.
The next year, I couldn’t even glance at a Mother’s Day card in the grocery store aisles without crying, wanting to scream at everyone around me, or feeling like my life was slowly being sucked out of me.
You see, one week after Mother’s Day 2008 my mom was killed by a drunk driver and after that the lovely holiday has never felt the same. After she was gone, the Mother’s Day gifts I’d given her existed in this world like little knives, stabbing out pieces of my heart every time I saw them. The cabinet stood in her bathroom where she’d found it a home, the sangria was half-full in her fridge, and the Deep Purple CD? It was in her car when she was killed. They lived on, while my sweet mother had transformed, never to be seen in an earthly body in this lifetime again.
I obsessively unsubscribe from marketing emails. It’s funny, because I’m in marketing. But I’m always unsubscribing to those emails I’ve outgrown or find annoying. But Mother’s Day? There’s no way to unsubscribe from that.
How many of you have lost someone you truly love and have had to experience the onslaught of reminders of what was lost?
In the first few years after she died, I was so jealous of those mothers and daughters celebrating Mother’s Day together, I couldn’t stand to talk about it or even pass by them. I’d honor my mom in my own way, but that didn’t lessen that pain any. I was so envious of those who had their mom there, those who were able to hug and love her and feel that love back in tangible form.
I hate to admit it, but I really hated celebrating other mothers. It felt disrespectful to my own, and she will always be my No. 1. I’d always weasel my way out of any sort of celebration of mothers for Mother’s Day. It wasn’t hard; I’m brutally honest so I’d tell my then-boyfriends why I couldn’t (wouldn’t) be celebrating the woman in their life. And then I’d go off and celebrate my main lady, Joy Carroll.
Grief is a demanding mistress. She takes hold of you and keeps you locked in her grip until that very freeing moment when you can breathe again. You never know when it’s coming, it just does. Somehow, I can look at Mother’s Day cards again. Somehow, I can look at the texts from grocery stores about Mother’s Day savings and not throw my phone across the room. But that has taken a very long time.
For much of the year, I’m okay. There are triggers – a song, an event, or just a day when I want her – when the grief is harder than usual and I’m reduced to tears and sobbing. But from Mother’s Day until that fateful fuck of a day, I’m not good. I’m not okay. But as the years have gone by, I’ve learned to appreciate other mothers again. For instance, I call my best friend’s mom different versions of “mom” all the time and that doesn’t feel disrespectful to me. She is my mom, in a way. And I love my mother-in-law like a mother, and that feels good. But it has taken me time. And I gave myself that time, unrelentingly.
To anyone out there who is just not feeling the pink flowers and constant onslaught of Mother’s Day-ness, that’s cool. You don’t have to make an excuse. I hear you.
And to all the would-be mothers who lost their babies and the world doesn’t recognize as mothers because your child didn’t make it, I hear you too. That’s a much different, albeit similar range of emotions. But you know what? I get that too.
Life is life and I’m glad to be living it. I just wish you could unsubscribe from Mother’s Day.