It’s nearly Mother’s Day, a day that I’ve actively dreaded for almost as long as I can remember. (As an aside, that apostrophe drives me bananas – if there was only one mother it would make sense, but shouldn’t it be Mothers’ Day? Argh).
I had a very difficult relationship with my mother while she was alive, and it didn’t get much less complicated after her death. Lauren lost her mother as a child, and we are both intimately familiar with the experience of being bashed over the head with a holiday that is all about loss.
Then we lost Ezra, after one hopeful morning-sickness tinged Mother’s Day, and it was official. I remember announcing it in the car on the way to Lauren’s family’s annual brunch – as a pair, we’d lost two mothers and one son and it clearly was not our holiday. Motherless children and childless mothers. We would just have to grit our teeth and get through it forevermore.
I was pregnant again already that year, and it was amazing how many people pointed out that I was a mother because of the tomato-sized fetus I was carrying, the miniature person who would turn out to be Moose. I was actually a mother because I’d birthed a baby, the sweet still boy that no one mentioned.
This year…I don’t know. I think I’m supposed to feel triumph. It was a long, hard road, and we’re here. We are actively mothering. There’s no doubt about it, we are mothers, and I know that there are flowers and crayoned cards and Moose-made scrambled eggs full of shell shards in my future. I’m grateful – I’m grateful every day.
I just don’t know how to separate the loss from the celebration. Maybe Mother’s Day is more about Moose than it is about me (Lauren has decided that we each need our own day to be pampered, so she’s claimed Father’s Day, henceforth to be known in this house as Non-Gestational Parent’s Day.) I’m wary of inherited loss – I don’t want to pass sadness down to my daughter that isn’t hers. There are days when I think we will mark loss, flowers in the cemetery and Ezra’s Christmas ornament on the tree. It’s part of our family story. But Moose has mothers, and Mother’s Day carries no hidden meaning for her. Why taint those years while she still wants to come home with flowers made of egg cartons? Adolescence is coming soon enough.
So I’ll think about the baby I’m raising and the baby I’m not, the grandmothers who will never hold Moose, the idea of mothering with no blueprints, no history that I want to repeat. I’ll think about it, and I’ll have brunch, and I’ll pose for a picture with my family, and take the joy from where it comes.