I was 7 months pregnant with my first child when my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. After a several hospitalizations, blood transfusions, an extensive surgery, and thirteen rounds of chemo, her body seemed to be responding well and the cancer was ‘under control’.
For about four months.
This particular cancer was too aggressive to let up. Her doctors elected to start her on a more rigorous chemotherapy schedule which took a toll on her already frail body. Just over 2 years from her initial diagnosis, my mom passed away; this time I was 6 months pregnant with my second daughter.
Mother’s Day last year, my first without my mom, was absolutely unbearable. I couldn’t walk through Target without bursting into tears. Every sitcom and commercial reduced me to a blubbering mess. I refused to ‘celebrate’ my own motherhood, and could only manage a half-hearted ‘thanks, honey’ when my 2 year old presented me with a flower arrangement.
This year is different- not better per se, but different. I bought Mother’s Day cards for my mother-in-law, friends and clients, without crying (much). While walking through a local flower festival today, I was able to smile and say thank you to the random stranger who handed me a carnation and said, "happy Mother’s Day." I’m looking forward to spending the afternoon with my family tomorrow, celebrating this silly, commercialized, Hallmark-inspired holiday.
It’s not that I miss my mom any less; in fact, I probably miss her more today than 20 months ago when she passed away. I’ve grown to realize that her death doesn’t make her any less my mother. Nothing can reduce the impact my mother has had on my life, both as a woman and as a mother myself. That influence is what is to be celebrated.
Mother’s Day isn’t really about brunch, cards and flowers. It’s about celebrating motherhood, in all of its forms. Whether you’ve given birth or lost a baby, adopted a child or opened your home to foster children, whether you’re a stepmother, grandmother or godmother, Mother’s Day is about you. It’s about your willingness, without hesitation, to put someone else’s needs above your own.