My mother’s birthday was Sunday, April 3rd. I felt really sad that day. Even though she passed away over 10 years ago, it still hurts. While I realize I will never get over the pain and the loss, the sharpness can still take me by surprise.
I try to honor her memory every day but especially on her birthday. Some years I buy yellow roses since I used to buy them for her. Last year I made a birthday cake. My daughters loved that. This year I felt too sad to do anything. We had just arrived home from visiting friends and I just felt blah. I emailed my brother and found out he felt the same way.
A few friends have asked me why I have not written about my mom. Part of me wants to write something absolutely amazing and part of me doesn’t want to face the fear and the pain.
However, I did write a short essay on my mom that was published two years ago on the New York Times Blog, The Local. In honor of my Mom’s birthday, I’d like to share it with you:
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY
It happens every May. As a mom to two young daughters, I should be welcoming Mother’s Day with a huge smile and an expectant heart. While I do love the colorful cards with misspelled “I love yous” that my daughters make at school, the truth is that Mother’s Day is a bittersweet holiday for me. I lost my mom on January 18, 2001. Not a day goes by that my heart does not ache for her.
I recall that very first Mother’s Day without her. I decided to stop in Bloomingdales to buy a new Bobbi Brown lipstick. I had to pass by the hordes of sales people hawking perfumes.
“Mother’s Day is this weekend! Why not surprise your mom with a new scent?” asked sales person after sales person. One particular woman nearly accosted me and practically dosed me with the sickingly sweet smell.
“Don’t you think your mom would enjoy a new perfume?” she asked me innocently enough. By that point, I lost it. I looked at her and said “My mom is dead!” She looked at me in horror. I felt bad. It wasn’t her fault. She was only doing her job.
Even though it’s been over eight years since she passed, I still mourn her loss. She passed away before I became a mom myself. I never got to ask her if she had any cravings during her pregnancy or if she ever wanted to pack her bags and leave the house when I had a temper tantrum. Did I even have tantrums? I do ask my father certain questions but he doesn’t hold the answers that I seek.
As I walk along Maplewood Avenue, holding my girls’ hands, I smile at the sight of other mothers and daughters. In Kings, I have to bite my tongue when I overhear a teen responding to her mother with sharp words. I hold back laughter when I walk by a crowd of Columbia students and one girl tells a friend “My mom is driving me crazy.”
I am very grateful to have many wonderful memories of my mom. We got along very well although she, too, sometimes drove me crazy. But every time I kiss my girls or give them a big bear hug, I think of my mom. How she must have felt holding me, kissing me. I love you Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.