Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mother'd Day

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My coping skills have evolved over the years. Since 2005, I've come up with new and creative ways to deal with the one holiday that turns me into a living, breathing oxymoron. On the outside I appear totally FINE. While on the inside, I'm frustrated, insecure, neurotic and exhausted. Get it? (see: find the hidden acronym). That holiday is Mother's Day.

I'll never forget the first Mother's Day my mom decided to start making the day about her. Imagine! At 16, I told her how taking off on Mother's Day to spend a quiet afternoon with my oldest sister (who was a new mom) was bad parenting. Only I framed my upset with teenage words. "How could you go without me?! Don't you want to spend it with ALL of your children? It's about us too."

"You get the other 364 days. Today, it's my day."

"It's not fair that you're spending it with Laura. I guess this means she's your favorite?"

"When you have kids and can pay for your own lunch, we'll invite you. Until then, Laura's my favorite."

My memory is a little cloudy but I'm certain she stuck her tongue out at me as she said that last statement.

The rules changed a little over the years. It wasn't so much about being a mom as it was being an adult that got you an invite to a laid back Mother's Day celebration. When the rules changed, I was in college so spending that maternal holiday with mom wasn't at the top of my priority list. After all, I had incense to burn and a six pack of Zima to crack open. There were plenty of years left to celebrate Mother's Day with her. Until there weren't.

From birth to 29, she loved me through the toddler, teenage and college years. She went to see movies that she didn't even like just to spend time with me. (Ex. "Tommy Boy")

In 2005, I celebrated my first Mother's Day without her. I was prepared for the big ones; Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, Easter. Yes, I'm a mom which entitles me to macaroni necklaces, handprint cards and extra snuggles from growing boys, but I'm also a daughter. A motherless daughter now. It feels weird this time of year. A little like attending a school awards ceremony and finding out your kid isn't getting one.

In 2009, I figured it out. Hallmark displays were the trigger. I couldn't buy a card for her so I felt like I had no business even looking. The woman who loved Erma Bombeck, "Murder She Wrote" and Diet Dr. Pepper was gone.

That same year I got a Mother's Day card in the mail. It was from a college friend and it changed my outlook on this holiday. Since she died, I have been fortunate that so many women have stepped in to pinch hit for my mom when I needed it most. That little gesture inspired me. I marched into the grocery, and hit the greeting card aisle. I was the Oprah and those cards became the new car. "You get a card. You get a card. You all get a card!" The funny, tenderhearted, sarcastic, serious and inappropriate friend. All of them get a card.

Every personality trait I loved about my mom is represented in the women who inspire me most. That could mean that mom made sure I would be emotionally supported by sending these women into my life, or it could mean that she had a mean case of multiple personality disorder. Either way, Mother's Day isn't what I thought it would be but it's exactly what I need it to be.

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