Monday, May 9, 2011

a day.

It's just a day. Another day.

Yesterday on npr, I heard that that only fifty percent of women in this country are mothers. I mean, that qualifier could easily be changed--a whopping fifty percent. In the end, it is half of the women who wrestle with this complicated holiday because they are mothers, which I would guess babylost or not, tends to get muddied and weird by awkward husbands and estranged parents. Or awkward parents and estranged husbands. There is a focus on it being YOUR DAY! (Cue the whistles and clowns and confetti.) My day, my ass.

If it is my day, then I am not wiping a single butt, except possibly my own. I am sleeping until I can no longer sleep. I am taking a bath, then draining the tub, then bathing again. I am not eating real food, just picking on exotic foods with hot peppers and stinky cheese. I am watching a marathon of something crappy and girly where people compete for either a modeling contract, or to lose weight, or a reality show of undisclosed suckiness. I am not cleaning, or making the bed, or doing any laundry. I am most certainly drinking coffee until 2pm in which case I will switch to herbal tea with cream and sugar. I am maybe laying in the grass for a nap. I am doing a face mask, possibly paying a charlatan to read my tea leaves. I am not paying attention to who is running with which scissors.

Then there is this other half who are expected to do the mother thing for other women. The other half has to hear all these platitudes and hyperbole bestowed on mothers for weeks leading up to the day, some that truly are insulting to other people who love and care for children, but can't be called a mother in any traditional sense. I mean, I think mamas are great, wonderful boo-boo kissers, and all that stuff, but other people love children and care for children, and sometimes all this focus on biological functioning and mothering is fucked up. In my humble opinion.  We are women with faults and weirdness and sometimes we are not great mothers. Lots of my friends wrestle with their own relationship with their mama. Anyway, all this feels like it is destined to be a day where expectations, imagined to be drawn with a strong dark line in Sharpie, are now kind of a shaded pencil blob, and no one knows what the hell to do. And everyone is disappointed.

But it is just a day, like any other day. And I try not to think of it as something fraught. It is just another opportunity to express my love for my mother, and for my kids to take a moment to remember who wipes whose butt and why that is important. I like milking the day. I especially like doing it in a way that makes my husband laugh, yet succumb. My husband is an amazing man. He wakes up on Mother's Day and says, "It's your day, what do you want to do?"  He always gets my children to draw me a card, and buys me something for the garden. This year, I came home Saturday morning and there was a beautiful bench under my Japanese Maple, a pail of Gerbera daisies next to it and a woodpecker feeder hanging off the tree. It was magical and perfect. As my bike rolled up, I was bouncing in my seat. It is gorgeous, and exactly, exactly, the kind of thing I wanted. I was just in awe of how wonderful my husband can be. And it does feel good to be listened to and heard. We loaded the kids into the car and drove to my mom's. Even in traffic, I was grateful to be with him and have the luxury to talk while the children slept behind us. That was my Mother's Day, which wasn't on Mother's Day, or even a day. It was just a moment of being in love and happy and contented.

I missed Lucy, sure. I noticed that Beatrice didn't draw her in our family picture in the card, but I also don't think I should keep pounding Lucy into everything. Lucy is part of our lives. Beatrice talks about her, but she doesn't always add her into everything. And that is okay. Her relationship with Lucy will change through the years. She is four. I need to accept wherever she is. And not impose my adult need to have Lucy onto my kids.

This year was the first year since Lucy died that I decided I should be a dutiful daughter and accept the invite offered by my own mother--to come to her house for Mother's Day weekend, to see my aunt/Godmother who is visiting from Panama, to talk with my cousins, hang out in her house with the beautiful sprawling property with woods and creek and eat delicious Panamanian food. We love going there for the most part, even though it can be chaotic and crazy and I tend to drink too much, eat too much, bitch too much. Jack the dog becomes a different dog--a permasmile and an impossibly joyful disposition. It makes me think my dog is depressed by living in New Jersey with a fenced in yard and no creek to swim in. Come to think of it, that makes me depressed too.

My mother decided not to invite my aunt, after all, rather she invited my sister's inlaws who have a child the same age as Lucy would have been, because there is nothing that a babylost mama loves more than being around a shadow baby on a day that is already fraught with grief and anxiety and thoughts of what would be. But it wasn't about me, as I kept repeating in my head. This is just another day, like any other day. This is what my mother wanted. This is what my sister wanted. It isn't about me.

It is ironic, because I never really do that in my head--imagine what she would be doing, or guess at her age and her milestones. It is all too heartbreaking, and yet, when this little beautiful girl came by, making "ribbit" noises like a frog, it took every ounce of strength not to implode and scream and lash out at people who did nothing but successfully breed. I isolated. I walked down the hill to the creek and I turn around and the entire party followed me after hours of not noticing the stream.  I kept moving forward until I had to turn around and pass the child. My heart broke again then, and I cried again then. I think watching Beatrice play with her, hold her hand, love her was the hardest part of the entire day. I tried to ignore all of it, but my daughter was so beautiful and kind and I can't help but stare at her.

But I am a self-centered person full of grief and raw emotions, pretending I was something else was my first mistake. And it isn't just a day, like any other day. It is a day about mothers and all the crap that comes with them. I read this quote by Kara on The Facebook the other day, ""I'll celebrate with you as long as you will first mourn with me. It is the combination of the two that lends itself to the true meaning of Mothers Day." And that is it. Exactly. I felt like I had no place in the day unless I was willing to let go of my grief. That is why my body and brain rebelled I guess, because I cannot let go of a part of mothering for me. I mother all three of them. Maybe I have to expect any mothering experience to be a third Beezus, a third Thomas and a third Lucy.

I finally just left. I may not have been pleasant. Probably not. I felt pretty betrayed, honestly. My mother told me that Lucy would want me to find joy. That Lucy doesn't want me to be sad anymore. That she lives in my heart. And I am so sick of people telling me what Lucy wants. Lucy is dead. Allow me to be sad on a day that reminds me that my baby girl isn't with me. I am not sad everyday, or even most days, but let me BE when I am. Being around much-adored children makes me miss Lucy with an intensity that sometimes still surprises me. It caught me all off-guard, the Mother's day, because it is just a day. I don't generally subscribe to that school of thought that Hallmark holidays should get more than a polite mention at the market checkout line. But the meaningful coming together of intensive advertising and marketing, party, two year old, grief and happiness resulted in a pretty emotionally raw day, couple that with early sobriety and the acuteness of my usual way of dealing is numbing myself out with wine and power-eating, I had to eventually call Uncle and just take care of myself.

Driving home, it occurred to me that maybe Mother's Day is supposed to be a day that is fraught and complicated and emotionally difficult for everyone, because that is exactly what it is like to have a mother and be a mother. Maybe it is a day where we should be bringing cards to our therapist, or just having therapy. But maybe the cathartic thing about the day is that it is not easy and we have to think about our relationship to that word and that state of being.

When I got home, I went right into the bathroom and drew myself a bath and did the crossword puzzle, then I drained the tub and did it again, and Thor crawled up and tried to get in himself, and so I put him in with me, and we played and kissed and got wet. Then I made a cup of herbal tea, and the kids jumped around the house, and I felt okay again. I could see Lucy's heartbreakingly small urn in the secretary, and it felt right to be with her there. It all meshes so easily when I don't try to be so fucking normal. I may never leave my house again.

What was your mother's day like?


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  2. My Mother's Day.

    It was my first Mother's Day. Our daughter was stillborn in February at 35 weeks. It was an impossible day. An impossibly painful, hollow day. My husband and I held firm to each other as the swells of grief slammed into us, and once more were thankful to be together.

  3. My Mothers Day was OK. I spent time with my children and they gave me gifts. My teenager said "Oh is it Mothers day" after we went out for lunch. We ate out for dinner too. I still haven't phoned my mother and I couldn't quite put my finger on the reason why. Kara's quote summed it up. I really dislike Mothers day.

  4. Mine was weird. It started okay. We had plans to go for brunch with my dad, stepmom, her son & family, and brother. And that was alright, except when a few times people remarked there there were 3 mother this year. I guess the other years didn't count. I let it slide though, as I can do these days. Then we had plans to go to my brother's for dinner with my mom and even though I specifically gave my brother instructions on smoking the brisket I prepared for 5 hours, when we arrived at 4:00 he was just starting the bbq. Sigh. He had slow cooked in the oven at too high a temperature so as a result, it was dry and overcooked. It irritated me more than it normally would. My mother talked politics (aka what she saw on Oprah this week) and that irritated me too. I got home, put George to bed and then disolved into thinking "I'm so fat, why can't I lose weight"....and then into sobbing about how it is my fault that Sam died. I guess the day affected me after all.

    Sending you love on this day, which is just another where we are msising our babies.


  5. Hi usual...I found myself agreeing and nodding while reading your post.

    I think Mother's Day is just such a mesh (and mess) of emotions that it feels like a personal minefield. I feel sorrowful for my friends who never had the chance to mother living children...then I feel guilty for posting about my cards and the cute things my kids did on the day...I want to share the moments of joy that I've managed to find since our lives imploded so long ago...but I'm acutely aware of how painful this time is for others.

    I have a friend who just lost his mother, suddenly, three weeks ago. She was just as much a friend to me as her son was...and a part of my life for nearly 20 years. I still ache from the loss. I miss her so much and in many ways, my life will never be the same now that she's gone. I sent my own mother two mushy cards, an extra big bouquet of flowers, and skyped her (she lives in Canada and I'm in Australia), telling her how much I love her, knowing that at any moment, everything I've ever left unsaid could remain that way.

    I watched my daughter buzz around the house...make a homemade card with both her brother's and sister's names on it...she made me a homemade cheesecake (her dad helped her with the oven part), and she surprised me by running a bubble bath and leaving a box of chocolate truffles beside it. There were no flashy gifts, no fancy restaurant fact, in many ways, it seemed like every other day (aside from the truffles and cake I guess).

    But I think it was the first Mother's Day in seven years that I did not spend any portion of it in tears, or thinking lengthy significant musings about C. or the nature of my multi-faceted motherhood...there were some moments of pure happiness yesterday...

    And because of that, I also feel guilty....

  6. Yesterday sucked. On the surface, it was fine. We went out for Thai food, we went shopping. But really, it sucked.

    I'm sorry it sucked for you too. I was thinking about you.

  7. I can totally relate! Seeing those little ones who are the same age can be so tough, sometimes shockingly. I've been lucky enough (lucky, ha!) to have been pregnant with 10 other women in 2008 that I know well and see somewhat often - they were all girls! So, for me lucky because it just seems a lot harder to see a 2 year old boy, than a 2 year old girl. I also take notice when Dresden is not included in Gwen's family pictures.. it's a hard pill to swallow, but as you said - it's not something I want to put on Gwen and make her feel guilt. I was bummed recently when her preschool project listed what kind of siblings you had... and Gwen was in the sister section and not the both. :( I think little things like this are just going to pop in every once in a while and make us gasp and feel, even just for an instant like our world is crumbling all over again. Thank goodness it doesn't last for days anymore.
    My mothers day was overall very pleasant. I spent some time crying and missing my boy, of course... I'm his momma too and any day dedicated to my mothering will always include him (but how is that different from any day really?). Lots of love and Hugs Angie. :)

  8. Over here, Mother's Day was the day after what should have been Freddie's first birthday. It's often in March but thanks to Easter being late this year (he having been born at Easter) it was also late. SO Mother's Day was beautifully timed in the UK.

    It was also my first Mother's Day not in touch with my own Mother, our relationship having broken down.

    My girls made it special and so did my DH, but mostly it glided over me in some strange unreal way. Having done his birthday the day before, it was hard for anything to immediately top it really. The day just couldn't top the emotion of the previous one. It was just a day.

  9. Well, I can't say it was 180 degrees better than last year, but at least I was able to function as a normal person, somewhat. It still sucked, though. Despite the beauty of what could have been just any old day. C did get up with the boys for what is usually my turn, and the house got vacuumed and I made a delicious brunch.

    But I'll vent this here, where I doubt I can be easily found. My mother has a habit of, while fawning over baby O with my grandmother, mentioning to her that O is her (my grandmother's) 7th great-grandchild. And know what? Calla was the 7th. Baby O is the 8th. I haven't yet found the balls to correct her, and that is what sucks.

  10. "Maybe it is a day where we should be bringing cards to our therapist"
    I love you Angie - those words help quite a lot :)

    While on the phone with my mother last night she talked about how this was the second Mother's Day since her mom died and hard for her. She asked me if the day was also hard for me because of my son.

    It was nice to have those few minutes of honesty, even though we were both saying hollow the day is.

  11. thank you, as always, for your honesty. it was mostly okay. i received surprising greetings from a few, and was disappointed at not hearing from another few... i guess it should balance out right?

    i feel like if i have a living child, i will be acknowledge more as a mother, but the the thought of that also makes me feel bitter because that means my dead babies don't count.

  12. It was hard. Unexpectedly effing hard. Thanks for asking.

  13. Yep, just another day. But I can't help feel those pangs of..... something..... I'm not quite sure what, on the day.
    I really need to write a post to recap my day, because as good as it was in many ways, it was also awful in so many others. Forgetting to go to the cemetery really topped things off. I forgot. I fucking forgot.
    Love to you Angie, and all of your babies.

  14. My Mother's Day was a regular sunday. Brekkie with girlfriends, a long walk with friends, dinner with family. My mom hates MD, hence we never "celebrated" it. Which is totally fine with me - today even more than back in the days. And even tough I could feel the tension of the day weighing down on me, I didn't allow the feelings to get through and make a bloody mess. I blew a kiss towards the graveyard when I drove by... and that was hard enough.

    I love Kara's quote... nail on head. But that one sentence struck me to the core: "It all meshes so easily when I don't try to be so fucking normal."

    Word, sister. Thanks for this.
    Much love to you.

  15. We are an anti-mother's day family from way back. My mom says it's just another holiday that mothers spend in the kitchen cooking for everybody else. Of course, we are also martyrs, and so, we must carry on with the cooking/cleaning/ass-wiping.

    I can feel your discomfort coming through the screen on this post and I'm just so sorry that you had to endure the whole ghost baby thing on what was supposed to be 'your day.' But I'm glad you managed to fit in some peace and quiet too.

  16. Really, this is what I need to do try. I need to not try to be normal because I just am not. This year I finally came to my senses and did none of our "normal" Mother's Day traditions. We met my mom for dinner the day before and then took the kids to see Thomas the Train the day of. I cracked several times but just let it happen instead of trying to pretend it away like I have every other year. Sorry our days aren't "normal."

  17. Sometimes I think WE might be the normal, at least the old-fashioned normal when childbirth was 'less' guaranteed. But, come to think of it, I don't think the 'celebrated' mother's day back then either.

    And what about the people whose mothers have died, whether young or at a ripe old age.

    So, I do think it is a mixed day,a and that's ok.

  18. shadow child. wow, great term. i still have not met my niece, as she is only a couple of months younger than Aquila should be. that, combined with the fact her mother is an ass.


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