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, not only because of my age, but also 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 any given hour on this day.
There is no pleasing me. I thought Mother’s Day was difficult as a grieving daughter, but this day is so much harder since I became a mom. It is so hard for my kids to understand how I feel and I lack the ability to explain to them this grief. I believe this grief is difficult for anyone to understand, unless you have experienced this type of loss yourself –the loss 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 which leads to grieving for the memories that did not happen because of her death. I grieve that she never met my husband or my kids, and they never got to know the special, strong woman who raised me. I grieve over not having her help or insight as I raise her five grandchildren. And I grieve over the simple fact that I never shared a cup of coffee with her.
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. 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 had gone on for over ten years, but then (I don’t even know how) I discovered gardening on Mother’s Day.
There is something therapeutic for me 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 so 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 my mom is proud.” So to all of the mothers who grieve for their own moms on this day, I salute you, you are not alone. I encourage you to find an outlet for the grief of Mother’s Day (gardening, hiking,etc.) so you too can enjoy this day with your children.
Final note: Remember to include yourself when you take pictures of your kiddos. I don’t have nearly enough photos of my mom! Enjoy taking silly selfies with your family, they will always love you for it!
To read more of Sarah’s writings follow her blog at http://wicklowwildflower.com or on Facebook @wicklowwildflower.