Today's blog post comes via special assignment from a dear friend. Fanny is speaking to the youth group at her church this Mother's Day on the topic of loving and honoring mothers. She wanted to include a variety of perspectives, including those of us who no longer have our mothers with us. She asked me to write a few words regarding what I would say to my mother if she was still alive. In efforts to get my thoughts out, I decided to expand and flesh out the topic in a blog post.
I've always had really mixed emotions about Mother's Day, even when my mom was alive. I always celebrated it with her in a traditional way, meals out, gifts, et... However, it brought mixed emotions, because I didn't have a Father to celebrate with on Father's Day.
It's not something that bothered me so much when I was older, but in elementary school it was awful. We always did school crafts for Mother's/Father's day and every year I had to explain to kids in my class why I didn't want to do the craft and why I didn't have a father. This was in the early eighties and a majority of the kids in my class lived in a two parent household. It felt like a very exclusive and excluding holiday. It made me feel anxious about Mother's day, like I had to double up my efforts because my mom was pulling double duty.
As an adult, I learned that it wasn't a big deal and I let go of the frustration that I felt. Now, not having my mom or being a mom, the holiday is virtually non-existent for me. I think a little about my friends and their mothers and children, but it's really just another day.
My mom died five years ago and I thought that the first Mother's Day without her would be hard. It oddly wasn't. The holidays without her were not much of an issue at all. The day-to-day things were hard, but not the holidays.
When Fanny first posed this question to me, I thought of a Taylor Swift song. I realize this sounds ridiculously cheesy, but there is one Taylor Swift song that has lyrics that get me every time. I think it's a sentiment that unfortunately we don't quite understand until we are an adult. From the song Never Grow Up
You're in the car on the way to the movies
And you're mortified your mom is dropping you off
At 14 there is just so much you can't do
And you can't wait to move out someday and call your own shots
But don't make her drop you off around the block
Remember that she's getting older too
If my mom was still here, I wouldn't take it for granted. She knew that I loved her, that's not an issue. I told her that I loved her every time that I talked to her. My uncle just recently died and the very last thing that I said to him was "I Love You". I never miss the opportunity to tell people that I love them.
However, I've missed other opportunities. I don't think that it's so much taking people for granted as it's taking time and health for granted. The people you love will not always be here and even if they are, they might not be in good health. You might not be either.
There were so many missed opportunities with my mom. She wanted to travel more and we always delayed it. I used my time and money to travel with people other than my mom. I wish that I had balanced it more.
Remember your parents when you are rushing to grow up and don't edge them out of the new life that you are creating.
There were places close to home that she always wanted to see, like Hearst Castle and the Grand Canyon. We just never went. It feels so stupid now, especially since Hearst Castle could have been a day trip. We should have just gone. I wish that I had created those memories with her.
Don't let the day-to-day get in the way of creating those special memories.
Be spontaneous. Don't wait.
If she was here, I would sit down and go through family photo albums and make notes. There are so many details and stories that die with the person. My aunt and I have spent the last few weeks going through pictures for my uncle's memorial and as special as it has been to sit with her and do this, it also makes me keenly aware that she can't answer all of my questions. She is my only family member now and so much has been lost.
If my mom was here, I would ask her to teach me how to make her famous potato salad and a Thanksgiving turkey. She always me to wake up early on Thanksgiving to help her prep the turkey. I always wanted to sleep in and she would say "What will you do when I'm not around to cook Thanksgiving dinner." I told her that we would eat out and that's exactly what we have done. It's not the same though. It's not as nice.
I wish that I had taken the time to learn the things that she wanted to teach me.
If your mom makes awesome potato salad, learn it, don't just eat it.
I really miss the potato salad.
Mostly if my mom was here, I would make sure that she knew that more than just loving her, I am grateful for her. She always supported me and my dreams, even the crazy ones. She was always my cheerleader. As a child, I thought that everyone's parents were like this, but as an adult, I realize that I am so lucky to have been raised by a parent that allowed me to be myself and to follow my heart. I won the mom lottery.