Mother’s Day isn’t always all tulips and chocolates, especially for mothers who have lost their mothers.
All holidays can bring up a swell of emotions, memories, and longings when you’ve lost someone, but Mother’s Day has a way of highlighting both sides of the chasm many motherless mothers feel themselves straddling—the in-the-thick-of-it mother on one side, and the daughter grieving her mother on the other.
I lost my mom when I was 19 and when my kids weren’t even glimmers in my eye. In the decade between that time and when I became a mother myself, I felt that I had done the hard work of grief. Not that I was over the loss (not that I’ll ever be), but that it had faded from the forefront of my life.
Losing my mother was no longer the singular event that defined me, but rather one aspect of the person I was becoming. Through those years, my mother’s status in my mind continued to be elevated, as, in my memory, she was grander, more faultless than she had been in life. The times she had slipped up, lost her temper, not given it 100 percent disappeared from my memory, and all that remained were the times when she absolutely nailed parenting.