I’ve been on vacation this past week, the week leading up to Mother’s Day, which provided me the much needed time away from the daily grind to reflect on what it means to be a mother.
Mother’s Day weekend, 2003, I was almost five months pregnant with my first baby. I was just getting over morning sickness, and my husband and I were going to Biloxi for the weekend. We stopped by my parents’ house on our way to the airport to drop off a gift for my mother – a foot spa. She acted like she didn’t want it and I offered to return it if she didn’t like it. It wasn’t that she didn’t like it, she said, but couldn’t really come up with a reason for why the gift upset her. After a go-round about the foot spa, she walked us out to the car. I had the window down in the car, and as I buckled myself in, my mother looked at me with a sweet smile on her face and said, “Happy Mother’s Day.” I remember marveling at the idea…me…a Mom!
I realize now that the issue with the foot spa was that she never planned to use it. She took her life just two weeks later after a lifelong battle with mental illness. So May is fraught with emotions for me. I celebrate my mother, but I also mourn her. I also celebrate my own journey through motherhood. Although my mother didn’t live to see her grandchildren, I carry her memory with me and it informs me in my parenting decisions.
The most important thing I do each and every day is to tell my boys that I love them. Every. Single. Day. I make sure they know that no matter how tough life gets, no matter how bad they feel, no matter what they’ve done – their Mommy loves them. Always. I make sure that they know this – to the point that it almost annoys them. I even quiz them on it, just to be sure the understand.
I’ve been blessed to have such strong women as role models: My mother, Marjorie, who was able to raise three children into adulthood despite bouts of major depression that included psychiatric hospitalizations. My grandmother, Sarah, who cared for both her aging mother and mother-in-law, nieces and nephews from time to time, and grandchildren when called to. (We lost Grandma in 1988, although 1985 might be more accurate as that was when she no longer recognized us due to Alzheimer’s Disease. I still miss her.) My great-grandmother, Hattie, who lost a young child and a husband.
So today I honor not only my mother, but all the mothers who came before her. Every generation who loved us, cared for us, and showed us the way forward through good times and bad. We love you!