Mother’s Day And Loss

I have not been a fan of this day since I became a Mom. My first Mother’s Day was marred by crass family members who chose not to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day based on the fact that I was not their Mother. I was young. I was sensitive because we had adopted our daughter after years of infertility and, 21 years ago, adoption was not as common. I didn’t like Mother’s Day and now this year, I dread Sunday. This is my first Mother’s Day since my Mom passed away in February.

A memory

Since my Mother’s passing, I have worked at grieving appropriately; I let the feelings come up as I have them. I cry. I laugh. Mostly, I just miss her. As life goes on, I am barraged by moments where I just want to share them with her. But I can’t. I want to call her and tell her about my life, Bobby’s braces and Ricky’s latest invention. I want to hear her scold me for not calling her. I want to hear her tell me the same story over again, replete with exaggerations and word for word conversations.

My Mom was a complex person. She was barely an adult when she left Cuba with my sister. My Father had fled the country 6 months before them because he was wanted by the police for his anti-revolutionary dealings. My Mom was not really prepared for any kind of work. In Mexico, while waiting to get their U.S. residency, my Mom was a manicurist. When she came to the U.S., she worked in a factory where she learned that people were not necessarily nice. Every day one of her co-workers would smile at her and flip her off. My Mom had no idea what that meant. After she was informed of the meaning of the gesture, she proudly gave her both fingers and then followed it up with a Spanish tirade that the co-worker did not understand.

While my Mom was in hospice, my sister received calls from all over the country from people she had helped. We were shocked to hear of how many Cuban families she had helped get out of the country, Mexican families she had reunited and individuals who she assisted in becoming residents and citizens of this country. She was not a secretary, lawyer, paralegal or even an advocate. She was bilingual, was extremely affable and could fill out forms. My Mom could play the part that the situation warranted. If she needed someone to help, she was a flibbertigibbet. If she needed someone to back-off or back down she could unleash a circle of hell that Dante never imagined. She was proud, generous and vindictive to a fault. She was also funny, loving and giving.

I miss all her complexities. I miss her fierce love of her children and grandchildren. I miss the fact that despite her size and age, she was always ready to throw down. I am saddened by the fact that she won’t be here to see my kid’s milestones, she won’t be there to meet her first great grandchild, and she will miss the graduations and weddings and major life events and never ask Paul to take one of the centerpieces.

This weekend I feel like my grief is back to square one. I don’t feel like celebrating. I don’t want to be surrounded by people with their Mothers. If I am to be honest with my feelings, I would rather just skip this one if you don’t mind. Of course, my Mother would probably get very angry with me for this and this also is not fair to my kids. In honor of my Mom, I will put on a brave face. Inside, I will be missing her and wishing she was still here.

To all the women and men who care for kids, whether or not they are theirs, and make the breakfasts, lunches and dinners and handle the laundry and schedules and Dr.’s appointments and playdates and homework and discipline and headgear and snot and poop and all the ickyness as well as kisses and hugs for the booboos and achy hearts because Jareth won’t let Tristen play with him during recess and it makes him so sad….Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for all you do.


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