I gave it a day. That’s not the first time I’ve had to do that, simmer down, take a day, chill out before speaking. Like I have a choice with the Italian-Irish heritage and its strong but loving feedback.
I gave it a day to talk about Mother’s Day and not because I needed to calm down. Rather, it’s because that day is one of the most bittersweet every year for me. There aren’t really right words to encapsulate the emotions that go into a mother-child relationship. There just aren’t.
And I don’t think there should be.
When a calendar or a card aisle at Walgreen’s tells me I have to show and receive appreciation, we’ve got issues. Actually, when anyone or anything tells me I have to do anything – we’ve got issues. But especially about that. Tell me how I feel about my Mom? No thanks. Find me one person roaming the planet who has known and had a relationship with their mother and the word “complex” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. The only scratching that suffices is when you’re in High School and your Mom tells you no – you may not go on a date at age 14 so you find the closest utensil and thoroughly scratch out her face on the tinny family picture from Cedar Point. I mean, hypothetically, no one looks good dressed up like Ma and Laura Ingalls anyway.
You don’t fully understand bidirectional favors until you become a Mom yourself. You don’t understand that you are mothering from a place of muscle memory, a place of “I remember how much that really hurt and NO WAY will I let you ever hurt that much – I will protect you to the ends of the earth.” Your child only hears, “I don’t trust you to make sound decisions on your own,” and so they pull away, the dance begins, and life goes on.
Or sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes a Mom loses her child and sometimes, a child loses their Mother.
Last year, both of those things were true for people in my life. And once again there were no right words to encapsulate the emotions.
I thought of and prayed for them. My heart ached for their relational losses, for their questioning of God and life and love and safety and meaning. And then out of no where and everywhere all at once, I had my own loss. I completely lost it.
I was mad and sad and annoyed and angry and hurt and bothered. Why does ONE day – ONE DAY! – tell us we must face all these feelings? Deal with all the past hurts that are never really past and instead, are always and will forever be fresh?
My mind would not stop flooding itself with pictures of Liv at age 2, 6, 9, 12, 16, 18…two days prior.
Was I a good Mom? Had I been a good Mom? Am I still even a “Mom?”
Ugh. Shut up head. You’re ruining the sweet complexity of my identity.
My daughter was 5+ hours away working. My Mom was (and is) 5+ states away not working.
I was here, hanging out alone with the memories.
I remembered the time when I slammed down a plastic bowl full of pretzels and all the loose salt flew up into Liv’s eyes, causing her to immediately scream-cry, “I’m blind! You blinded me Mom! How could you?!”
I remembered the time I warmed her up before a softball game and through an errant throw/catch/sun positioning, she ended up with a bloody fat lip.
I remembered the times I raised my voice.
Stuck up for her.
Made her get a job.
Taught her to drive.
Rode the bus to Kindergarten with her.
Ran with her.
Walked the floors all night with her.
Read to her.
Laughed with her.
Cried with her.
Became friends with her.
What an unbelievable, indescribable, incomparable, irreplaceable relationship.
And for the record – it’s like that every day, Walgreen’s, so don’t even try to tell me otherwise.