“I haven’t slept in weeks,” the beautiful woman shared from across the blue covered picnic table. A mother to a 17 year old, a 2 year old and a 3 month old-all foster to adopted children. None from her body. However, in the blue bruises under her sleep deprived eyes and hair in need for highlights, the grays peeking through, I only saw a compatriot in the trenches of diapers and attitudes and messes.
It took many years before we saw an ultrasound from my husband’s sibling. They were told it would probably never happen, and yet it did. The fall will bring a miracle baby into our family.
My dearest manager at work became a step-mother to an 11 year old who has now grown into a handsome, successful young man. She humbly discounts her role in his life, but in the way he smiles at her, you know this is truly his mom.
My brother said he would never get married nor have a family. He insisted he was fulfilled with spoiling our children and pursuing with passion his career. Then she happened. And in two short years he married and will be bringing a baby into the family this fall.
My friend will be mothering her son’s girlfriend as she moves in for a time; bringing another woman into a house full of men. Last night I made her laugh so she didn’t cry at the enormity of the changes.
Too many friends of mine have had complicated and painful relationships with their mothers. One is spending this day removing freedom from her mother-in-law to save her from dementia. Another has posted a meme on how birthing a child does not make a mother, rather heart does.
For me, mother’s day puts pressure on old wounds of mothering failures. While healing is ongoing, it’s so easy to feel the pinch of things remembered through the haze of depression and anxiety.
I remember my mother and grandmother. Tough and tender, I never quite understood them until long after they were gone.
I received this as a mother’s day gift from my sparkly 2nd grader.
I spent the majority of the day in jammies sobbing over a maudlin Nicholas Sparks movie (the only one where no one dies). I called my dearest sister (in law) and talked babies and summer visits and teaching and all things wonderful.
We went to a superhero movie and out to dinner. At dinner I quickly grabbed my phone remembering we hadn’t called Joyce. Then I cried. Joyce is my mother-in-law who has been gone for 5 years. So real is her presence still in our lives.
This day has been one where I have been thinking of all the kinds of mothers I know. The ones still waiting, the ones who are walking through addiction recovery, the grandmothers who are mothering again because their own children are incarcerated or incapable. I’m thinking of all the women who mother children in their classrooms or youth groups or on the job; like Wanda, the office manager, who taught me white people under-season their food and how vanilla should be quadrupled in any recipe.
To all the mothers from whom I learn so much, I say thank you and pray for your hearts to be full and your blanket warm and your nap uninterrupted.
Would you share about the mothers of all kinds in your life? I would love to read about them.
There’s always been a connection between food and love. In my life that connection has resulted in food being my drug of choice to numb the places where love was not so sweet. However, in this less/more/abundantly journey I’ve been thinking about food as a way of expressing.
Take this cake. It’s a GOLDEN cake with RED, WHITE and BLUE colors.
It’s something I made to celebrate the Olympics. We are Olympic nerds and watch every moment we can. In fact, we taped the men’s tennis finals so we could cheer our fellow Scotsman Andy Murray’s victory after church.
The cake was more than just a way to cool the Olympic fever in my house. It was a touchpoint for my remembering and celebrating my Mother.
Growing up we almost always had dessert. There was always a treat of some kind to wind down the day. I remember some dubious concoction called ‘fruit float’ which resembled the offspring of yogurt and jello with some very smushy berries. Then there were the homemade birthday cakes. Always 9 x 13 and always vanilla. They were served in their silver pans with a flourish.
I miss my Mom. The waves of grief crash far less frequently since it’s been over two years since her sudden passing. However, every now and then the tide sweeps in and I am again overwhelmed with missing her. I make myself remember her high pitched laugh, a rare occurrence for only the silliest of moments. Her quick wit and her no-nonsense, take no prisoners attitude. And I make myself remember her hands, always busy, always with perfect nails. I remember her hands patting my back for our last embrace just weeks before she was embraced in Heaven.
To connect with her, I sometimes take down her ancient box of recipes. Written in her perfect script (she had the most beautiful handwriting of any person I have ever known) were the tastes and memories of my childhood. I read each one and, as the waves take me out on a sea of melancholy, I kiss a card or two.
I couldn’t find the ‘Jello Cake’ recipe in the box. So I made it up from memory. She probably did too, all those years ago. Hers was better.
I’ll have another piece of that jello cake. It violates the ‘eat less’ part of this journey. However, the sweetness of sharing one of MeeMaw’s recipes with my family will make it a little easier to swallow the grief. It will also allow me to do something I failed to do enough of when she was here-love my Mother abundantly. All this in a yellow cake, baked in a silver pan and sweetened with memories.