Becoming a mother was one of the most profound events in my life. When each of my children was born, my life changed forever. I’ll never forget the experience with my firstborn – one moment I was pregnant, and the next, I was holding my newborn son in my arms and rejoicing with my husband. In a blink of an eye, I became someone’s mom. (Just wish they had given out a manual at the same time!)
Mother’s Day is time for both kids and moms to celebrate. It is a day for me to acknowledge all that I have accomplished as a mother and to proudly honor all the roles that motherhood requires: the nurse, the cheerleader, the chef, the chauffeur, the seamstress, the actress, the hugger, the referee, the bodyguard, the maid, the ghostbuster, the juggler, and the Olympic athlete – just to name a few!
And Mother’s Day is a day to revel in the pampering that my husband and children will shower me with (a girl can dream at least!).
My first Mother’s Day with Keith was nothing like this. It was a reminder of all that we as a family had lost.
My son’s preschool hosted a Mother’s Day Tea. I watched with pride as he so ever so carefully carried a cup of tea over to me. I basked in his joy when he gave me the gift they had made in class. I cried as the class sang a song in tribute to Moms. I was so proud of how he had navigated the past 10 months without his Dad there. My heart ached for his grief and for the one that was still to come. My heart ached for myself and what my life had become. My role as a Mom was to protect my children, and the hardest lesson for me as a Mom was learning that I couldn’t protect them from life.
After Keith died, Mother’s Day became a day of sadness and heaviness. Keith and I should have been sharing this day together. He should have been making me breakfast in bed with the help of our children. I should have been staying in bed pretending to be asleep but waiting with great anticipation of the meal that was about to be delivered. I should have been cuddling in bed with children, opening their homemade gifts, and feeling the warmth of their hugs.
On my first Mother’s Day, the morning came with no bacon and eggs, no flowers or kisses from my husband. Instead, I woke to having to change a dirty diaper, feed my kids, and eventually, I had put on my game face to attend the dinner I was invited to. To me, it was just another seemingly impossible day to get through.
I remember receiving multiple Mother’s Day cards from well-wishing family members who were trying to ease the pain of the day – even got duplicates of the same card. I guess finding an appropriate card for a widowed parent is hard! I appreciated the gesture, but it just didn’t ease my pain – nothing could.
I survived my first Mother’s Day with my usual widowed grace and style. I kept the emotions to myself and told everyone I was doing OK, though I was actually happy for the day to end so I could get back to the sanctity of my home… the place where I could begin counting the days until Father’s Day.