Mother’s Day has been a struggle for me since I was sixteen. Two days after my 16th birthday, my mom lost her battle with cancer. And this event was extraordinarily difficult on me because I am an only child.I had no siblings to share my pain, no real outlet for my grief, and so my grief stewed. And although I am not 16 anymore, part of me on Mother’s Day in particular, reverts back to my teenage self. On Mother’s Day I act like an emotional teenager–ready to cry, sulk, pout, lash out in anger–I run the gamut of these emotions in the span of an hour on this day.
There is no pleasing me. I thought Mother’s Day was difficult as a grieving daughter, but this day has become more of a struggle since I have become a mom. It is so hard for my kids to understand how I feel. I think it is hard for anyone to understand, unless you have lost your mom. Every single mother’s day, the cycle of grief begins again. I grieve for my mom and the memories I shared with her as a child –although there were too few memories. And so then I grieve over the lack memories. I also grieve for the memories that did not happen because of her death. I grieve that she never met my kids. I grieve that I don’t have her help or insight as I raise them.
So on this day when my kids try to make me breakfast, all I see is a messy kitchen. They make me homemade cards, and I am unimpressed. There is no getting me out of this funk. They leave me alone and I am mad because they are leaving me alone. They want to cuddle with me and I feel smothered.
This funk has gone on for years, but then (I don’t even know how) I discovered gardening on Mother’s Day. There is something therapeutic working along side my kids in the garden. Clearing the weeds is an outlet for my sadness, anger, and loss. Clearing the weeds allows me to release the pain I have on this day. And turning over the dirt in the garden, sowing seeds and planting flowers is a metaphor of life continued– that despite the waves of grief I (still) have over the loss of my mom, life still goes on, and I know that she lives on through me and my children. People often say to me “Sarah, your mom would be proud of you and your kids.” And I used to look at them meekly, holding back tears and nod my head in affirmative. Now I respond “Thank you. I know she is proud.” So to all of the daughter-mothers who grieve for their own mothers on this day, I salute you. Find an outlet for the grief–(gardening, hiking) so you too can enjoy this day with your children.