Mother's Day can be such a bittersweet time. It is a special day to celebrate our mothers, but for those of us who have lost our mothers, did not have a caring mother or have not been able to experience the joys of motherhood despite trying, it can be a painful reminder.
This Mother's Day will be my third year without my beloved mom and my sixth as a mother myself. I miss my mom everyday, but there are certain days -- like her birthday, Christmas and Mother's Day -- when her absence is felt more strongly.
I remember my very first Mother's Day as a mom myself in 2009. My son had surprised us by being six weeks early, so the first three months leading up to Mother's Day that first year had been more stressful than I even anticipated. We were not sleeping, I was pumping like a mad woman and we were anxiously awaiting him to top the scales at seven pounds.
I remember that my brother and sister came in from out of town to spend the day with us and my mom was there also. I have this great picture of us (well great of everyone else, I looked like I was still pregnant with really bad hair and blotchy skin) in the backyard. Nicholas was so small, yet so cute.
I don't remember much else about that day, but I do remember how I felt. I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I was experiencing motherhood for myself. I also remember really appreciating my own Mom more than I ever had before. Up until the prior year, I wasn't sure that becoming a mother was ever going to happen to me. We had been trying, and to be honest, I had just about given up on this dream until that amazing day when I peed on a stick that finally turned blue.
Growing up with my own wonderful mother gave me a lot to look up to. She had always been there for me, and always encouraged me to go after all my dreams. She was so strong and kind. Even when she had struggles with her personal life or health, she always seemed to rise above it to a place of hope and beauty and wisdom. Whenever I was scared, she would comfort me, whenever I was anxious she would calm me, and whenever I needed an ear she would listen. As I got older she became more than my mom; she became one of my closest friends.
While I miss her every day, I'm grateful for the legacy she left me and my brother and sister. She lives on in our memories, hearts and stories. I recently came across a woman who also lost her mother not long ago and started a company where she records peoples' stories on film to live on for generations. I wish I had thought to record more pictures and videos of my mom over the years. I would love to see her in action and would especially love to show my son his beloved grandma so he never forgets the way she absolutely adored him.
My mom's terminal cancer diagnosis was so unexpected that in her remaining months of treatments and palliative care, we didn't think to record more memories of her. And even if I had thought to do that, I wanted to remember her when she was vibrant and happy and I think she wanted the same. What I am forever grateful for is the amazing times we did have while she lived with us in those last months of her life on this planet. I feel blessed that I did have the insight to realize that in a few short months I would give anything to be able to talk to her. I knew I had to embrace every single moment. When she was feeling well, we would really be together laughing and talking and sharing. It is forever imprinted on my heart. Yet, I do still wish I would have captured on film more examples of the incredible woman my mom was before she was sick.
On this Mother's Day, I would encourage you to spend the day with your loved ones and make some mental and physical memories. One day your children will want to reminisce and look at old pictures and videos of you and them together. They won't care that you never lost those 10 pounds of baby weight, that your hair was a mess or that you no longer have time to follow the latest clothing trends.
If you're blessed enough to still have your mom, take some time to shift the camera or video camera off the kids and ask her for her favorite Mother's Day story and other memories. We never know what the future holds and I think that being mindful of recording memories is a way to make sure that we and our children have something to always remember us by.
Postscript: I had written this blog and it was ready to publish when my mother-in-law had a massive bleed in her brain. Sadly, we are not sure if she will even be with us on this Mother's Day. It's a tragic reminder to cherish the time we do have with our loved ones.