One year ago, we took my Mom to Mother's Day Brunch at the Holiday Inn on Grand Island. Buffets were always an awkward affair because of her walker. She had degenerated to the point where I thought we could just store the walker and bring her a plate of food. After all, I was her daughter. I knew what she liked to eat ...... right? When she was told this, she became very angry and announced that she wasn't hungry. I guess having her food brought to her was unacceptable, even as we thought we were doing her a favor. But no ... if she couldn't walk around the very large room and see everything, she was not going to eat. Period. So, I dragged out the walker and off we went - Mom, walker and me following behind with her plate. Her mood changed instantly. In the last five years of her life, she was increasingly only happy if one of us was waiting on her hand and foot -and sometimes, even that didn't make her happy. Never mind that I was spending my first Mother's day without my daughter. My daughter ..... there could not be a bigger contrast in mother-daughter relationships that that of my Mom, me, and Amanda ....
As I prepare to celebrate my first Mother's Day without my Mom, I feel that sense of something missing. Obviously she is missing, but it's more than that. She loved to go out to eat in a really fine restaurant - something I clearly inherited from her - and she loved to be given flowers that she could plant -something that I clearly did not inherit from her. We indulged her with both of these loves every year, and it just feels odd to be choosing not two mothers day cards and two plants for her and for my mother in law, but only one card and one plant. It's just a strange, weird feeling. I'm also wrestling with feelings of guilt. Guilt, because of the sense of relief and freedom that has invaded me.
So many people are posting the sentimental poems on Facebook about their mothers in heaven. I could rarely bring myself to buy her a rose-covered sentimental card each year and usually resorted to the witty, comical variety. Because my Mom was not the rose-colored, sentimental type. When I was a child, she fulfilled her duties as a parent because I'm sure she felt that she had no other choice. But there was never the "I loves you's", never the mother-daughter talks and I don't remember feeling deprived as a child or as a teen. It wasn't until I reached adulthood that I felt as though I was missing out on something. I would imagine that I was and maybe still am a textbook case of the person who resorts to blaming parents and childhood for her woes of adulthood. The facts as I see them are this: I could never go to her for advice because I felt that she would find a way to interpret it all as a failure on my part. It was all wrong in her eyes: my weight, my clothes, my parenting style, Bill and his family. She loved to constantly tell people that none of my Dad's children had inherited his musical talent (it was only a few years ago that she stopped doing this). As she made her way through the final decade of her life, she expanded the circle of people she enjoyed critiquing even as her involvement in the world around her shrank proportionately.
So why am I going on about this? Probably to make myself feel better about the fact that I have very little desire to celebrate her tomorrow in any different way than I did when she was alive. I would be in denial if I said that there wasn't the feeling of a hole. She really did enjoy the day (and the flower and the restaurant). I will choose to celebrate Mother's day as the mother of an amazing daughter and as the daughter-in-law of a woman who is hopefully embarking on a chapter in her life that will be light and free. And I will celebrate all of the other amazing Mothers who are a part of my life.