Mother’s Day is my own personal Hell day.
Now, I know you might have just read that and be thinking that I’m a complete and total monster. But I ask that you please withhold your judgement, at least for the remainder of these next few paragraphs.
The first thing you should know about me is that I have nothing against mothers. Really. It’s just Mother’s Day, that second Sunday in May. When it comes around, as it always does, it’s like emotional Chinese water torture, the world force feeding reminders down my throat of what I do not have. Emails telling me that I should get off my butt and go buy my mother flowers and a card and tell her how much she means to me. Articles suggesting recipes I should make when I serve her breakfast in bed. I should snuggle up beside her on the couch and watch Sleepless in Seattle for the 97th time, with us both breaking down into tears when Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks hold hands in the elevator in the last scene. I should hold her close and say a single thank you for all the thank yous that slipped my mind over the last 364 days. And if I could, I would give anything to make that happen. But that’s not how I get to spend Mother’s day.
Instead, I hide. I shut down my computer. I ignore my email. I refrain from checking Instagram. I don’t answer my phone. I keep myself in the safe confines of my apartment because the outside world doesn’t know how hard it is for me and people like me to face it. After all, Mother’s Day is not meant for the motherless.
I’ve lived in New York for over eight years now, and I still have not come around to like the subway. In fact, I hate it. I hate it during the workweek when it’s crowded and too hot or too cold and always too dirty. But I really hate it the most on weekends. Have you ever ridden the subway on a Saturday afternoon? I have, unfortunately. And it’s just too damn hard.
I’ll be sitting there all by myself, losing myself in the music coming out of my headphones, only to be pulled from the trance to see mother and a daughter sitting across from me. The mother is almost always whispering to her daughter the things she needs or what they should buy for an occasion and who’s going to be there. Or they’re talking about plans they have or trips they want to take or just gossiping. And there I am sitting across from them, pretending I am invisible, listening in on their conversation, my lip trembling, remembering the Saturdays I used to spend with my own mother having the exact same conversations.
And what really gets me is that the daughter is almost always annoyed at her mother. Yes, Mom. I know, Mom. Mom, I get it.
Bitch, I mutter under my breath. And then I get off at my stop, wipe away the tears pooled in the corners of my eyes and go home to curl up in bed. I think about all the things I need that my mom would have supplied or suggested before I even opened my mouth. She always knew just what I needed, and she always made sure I had it.
Now, that’s a mommy.
So while all the mothers and their families gather around on the second Sunday of May, I make every effort to keep myself emotionally balanced. I stay home by myself. I throw on mindless television. I listen to my classic rock records and I twirl around my living room singing along to Gypsy by Stevie Nicks. I make handwritten lists of places I want to go and things I want to buy. I try to stay calm, but every once in awhile on Mother’s Day I close my eyes and cry and remember all things I cannot do with my mother. I remember the one person I need and the soul-crushing truth than I do have not her.
I lost her when I was 15. Now at 29, I’ve survived almost half my life without her. I’ve lived and walked and bled and achieved without my mother. I’ve had moments when I’ve taken out my phone to call her only to remember that there is no phone number I can dial. There is no way to reach her. Sometimes I close my eyes when I’m all alone and whisper aloud, “Mommy,” hoping to hear her say my name back to me. But sometimes I forget what her voice sounded like and I spend hours trying to quiet my mind enough so I can hear it.
I’ve actually gotten better at handling Mother’s Day over the years. It used to be unbearable, almost worse than February 26, the anniversary of her death. Or Thanksgiving, the day she got sick. Mother’s Day had a way of making me feel more alone than I ever thought imaginable. Because when all the mothers in the world are being celebrated, even the subpar moms out there, I was faced with remembering that I lost the best mother in the world. I am aware that I may be biased, but I would fight to the death on that one belief.
But I really have learned how to play through the pain, an off-set of years of grieving. Not something I’m proud of, but something I’ve learned how to do. Because the truth is, despite all the books you’ve read or the advice you’ve heard, you never really get over losing your mother. You move on. You get through. And you just learn to live without her. It’s just a bit more obvious that she’s not there on the second Sunday of May.
So on the day when all the motherless children out there feel the gaping hole left in their heart, I want to say this. You are not alone. Mother’s Day sucks. I get it. And I am so, so sorry.