I Survived Mother's Day (+ Other Fun Stuff)
I haven’t been here in a while. Since October 18 when I hopped on to write about A New Chapter. I need to go back and read it to be sure, but as I recall, it was a reasonably optimistic post about how I will do life without Mom. To recap: She died on October 4th. Which was also my 40th birthday. Yep, I know.
Sunday was Mother’s Day. And here’s the thing: Mother’s Day was never a big thing during my childhood. I remember making cards. I remember one year sitting Dad down and telling him he couldn’t run off to the Berkshires (his nature and writing haven) because we needed to stay put here in the city and celebrate Mom. But it just wasn’t a deal. It was really just another day. As was Father’s Day. It’s interesting - and worth a post of its own perhaps - that our culture hits us over the head with the (false? fabricated? highly commercial?) import of these Hallmark-ian days. If you detect a bit of bitterness here… well, yep. Forgive me. This year at least?
Mother’s Day Eve was far worse for me than the day itself. Anticipation often is, right? I just felt this creeping melancholy, this building dread as my first Mother’s Day without a mom approached. I also felt that familiar pressure to hold it together for my own girls. When I got into bed on Saturday night, my chest felt tight with anger and sadness and this is when I let myself cry. Big tears rolled down my cheeks as my husband brushed his teeth in the bathroom. “I miss you, Mama,” I said aloud in the dark room. When my guy asked if I was okay, I was honest with him. “No,” I said. And then we lay there, side by side, in the darkness, enveloped in a thick, redemptive silence. He asked if I wanted to talk about it and I said no. Because I couldn’t. There were no words. Just infinite, childish longing.
But I slept. And when I woke, it was a new day. A better one. I felt quiet, emotionally drained, but the coffee my hubby made helped. As did the insanely delish pastries from Levain Bakery. The girls had made me the sweetest gifts - cards and paintings and origami and my hubby was on target with my gifts: cozy pajamas from Hanro and a flowing, flowery dress from probably my fave designer. Bravo, my good man.
The girls’ Sunday soccer games were rained out which was kind of devastating. Admittedly, I’m a little too attached to watching them play. It’s my meditation. But we made do with soccer on television - all day. We cozied up and watched the English Premier League, a MLS game, and then watched the United States Women’s National Team beat South Africa. My guy and my middle babe ran out for groceries in the monsoon and my guy cooked the most scrumptious grilled cheeses (mine had white cheddar, gruyere, caramelized onions and rosemary - yummmm) and then the girls made the tastiest soccer sugar cookies. There was a real theme to the day. And I spent most of it on the couch, in my comfy clothes instead of the fab, springy dresses I ordered from Rent the Runway, sundry cats and furry blankets draped on me at all times. For dinner, my very pregnant little sister Tegan came over and we all gathered around the dining table and scarfed Indian takeout. It was the girls’ first time trying it and they were instant fans of the Chicken Masala. Goodness, they are growing up.
At night, I put on my new pajamas and I hopped from room to room, tucking my daughters in. One by one, I told them how special the day was to me, how they make me the happiest mommy. And they do.
It turned out to be a good day. I think I purged some of the sadness in advance, on Saturday. Maybe that’s how it was supposed to be? A couple other things helped that are worth mentioning - mainly as a reminder to me. I wrote a couple of raw posts on Instagram about Mom, and also about getting through the day. Being thoughtfully vulnerable helped; it always does. Also, for the 1,020th day in a row, I didn’t drink. I felt my emotions instead of numbing them. Highly highly recommend. And I wrote about that too, how my three daughters are my top three reasons for choosing The Dry Life.
Anyway, I did it. And here I am on the other side of my first Mother’s Day without Mom. I’m in this murky, interesting place where I’m feeling both tender and strong. These, for me, are fertile days of seeking, of soaking up a world that feels altered, and meaningful. I know I will look back on these days, weeks, months as a vital phase of transformation, of healing, of learning. But for now: I’m in it. And as blurry and disorienting as this time can feel, I’m grateful for it.
And it’s not all dark and draggy! Let me assure you - and me - of that. There’s been lots of magical and medicinal joy in these parts. Lots of love. Of laughter. Of humility. A new kind of happiness that feels quiet and cozy and totally earned. And I want to close out here by saying thank you for being here. Here in the ether, here in my life to witness my unfolding, to unfold alongside me. We are all iterating, we are all evolving. And we are in it together.
Before I hit publish, I want to share some stuff with you. I use the word stuff because I love it, because it’s apropos, because what follows is a real (and delightful) hodgepodge. Enjoy!
This Mother’s Day post by my dear friend Anna Bloom is sheer PERFECTION.
Books I’ve read lately and love (note: too many to list! and some out and some forthcoming): On Being 40(is) edited by Lindsey Mead, Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, The Second Mountain by David Brooks, Normal People by Sally Rooney, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb, Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur (available for pre-order), Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky (available for pre-order)
Reading/On my nightstand now: Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, The Road Home: A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path by Ethan Nichtern, Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis, Do Less by Kate Northrup, The Goodbye Diaries by Marisa Bardach Ramel and Sally Bardach, I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagán.
Go-to Listening for walks through Central Park: EDIT: Editing Our Drinking + Our Lives (yes, I sometimes listen to myself to remember why I stopped drinking 1000+ days ago!), Family Secrets, On Being, The goop Podcast, Oprah SuperSoul Conversations, DIY MFA, Writing Excuses, TED Radio Hour
And I will leave you with this, my all-time favorite Mother’s Day pic, from 2013: