It is that day of the year. The day daughters and sons and husbands and loved ones celebrate the mothers in their lives. Each year, it is a painful reminder — more painful than your Leap Year birthday or the anniversary of your passing (coming up in just a couple of weeks) — a painful reminder that you are not here.
May 26 causes me to relive the day that made me an adult much too early; that shaped my every move and trait and flaw. Mother’s Day causes me to focus so specifically on all of the things you are missing, have missed and will miss. And this year, my first as a mother myself, that loss is magnified.
Your grandson is in his bassinet, lifting his head up with strength I feared he would never have. He flips over, grabs his feet, giggles and looks up at me — the first of many “Mom, did you see?!” moments I love. Did those moments with you fill your heart up with happiness and hope? Did you hold your breath when I fell or did you come running with a hug? I need to know, because some days, there is such intense pressure to not mess up any of these Mommy Moments.
“Mommy…” I call out in weakness. “Mommy, what should I do?” The day of Zachary’s diagnosis, I cried myself to sleep chanting “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy…” For you or for me?
Just as I briefly thought Down Syndrome would cause me to curl up and die, as if I let my son down, my family down, I once thought that there was a point in which the hurt of missing you would quietly fade into the back of my memories, collecting dust and fingerprints like a favorite photo. I was wrong on both ends.
I am stronger than ever, and so is the pain of life without you.
There are days that Down Syndrome could easily consume me, but I remind myself that I’ve been through much worse, much harder things than this. In fact, it was the first thing my dad told me when I told him of Zachary’s diagnosis — how strong I was and how I had survived worse tragedies before. He was talking about you, and your death 17 years ago.
I think I’m a good mother. I hope I am, at least. There are some days I’m pretty darned proud of myself and of how good it feels to hold my son so close and make him a better person, too.
But I’ve had to figure it out all on my own. I had no mother in my life to talk to me about how a baby would change my life; how pregnancy would feel; tell me stories about when she was pregnant with me. When Scott’s family came into the hospital room nine months ago, I daydreamed about the smile on your face and where you would be sitting and just how much I felt your absence. There are days still that I pick up the phone, wanting to call you and vent about my bad day or seek advice. And I realize I don’t have your phone number.
I get bitter sometimes and I do a lot of wondering why. Just like I hope and hope that my friends realize how special their “healthy” and “normal” babies are and how much they take for granted, I wonder if those I love who aren’t members of the Motherless Daughters Club can imagine a Mother’s Day without a mother. Or any day for that matter.
Let’s be honest, Mommy, you weren’t perfect. Not as a mother and not as a person. But I don’t know many people who are at either. I certainly am not. I certainly have my demons, too. But on this Mother’s Day, you are loved, appreciated, thought of and most sorely missed. By a couple of us this year. Because at least once every day, I take a moment to mention you, in a story or through a photo, to your grandson. And he always smiles.
The chance that she never had is now the gift that is mine. And out here on this road I’m making up for lost time. Yeah, I am my mother’s child and tonight in this car, I got her words in my suitcase, her dreams in my heart.
For the first time in my life, this Mother’s Day is all my own.
But I might just share it with a little blond-haired boy with a drooly grin and big blue eyes. You see, I thought I was a good writer. I’m becoming confident in my new position and career, too. But there is absolutely no job that I feel like I was made for quite like my roles as Scott’s wife and Zack’s momma. It is in those moments with my two guys that I feel whole, complete, at peace and so unimaginably happy.
I was born to be a mother.
*** It was after I wrote this that I received my Mother’s Day gift(s) from Scott. The man is a sweetheart and a thinker and knows how to drive a point home. I received four charms from Brighton (my favoritest ever) — all birthstones — one heart-shaped one for Zack and then one each for the three “mothers” in my life — my Mom, my stepmother and Scott’s Mom. Pile of happy tears.
Mother’s Day, it seems, isn’t just about being a Mom; it’s about the Moms in your life. It’s about the mother figures, too, and there’s a lot of you out there. And I think it should be about the New Mom Friends who have helped me navigate this boat in rough seas and to all the friends and loved ones who aren’t Mommies, can’t be Mommies, are trying to be Mommies and will someday soon be Mommies. You’re all in my heart today.