I’ve been cranky all week, and everyone saw it coming except me. Mother’s Day hasn’t been a thing for me. I get a little snippy, but I usually assuage the ache with an excess of treats, day-drinking, and a few deep social media dives to validate my experience. My own mother never seemed thrilled with the celebration, even when we were on speaking terms. So a made-up holiday originally created for women’s rights that’s been bogarted by capitalism wasn’t a pastel-posied day ruiner outside of the usual fight-the-patriarchy way. Until it was. This year.
When I woke up blue on Sunday morning, after three consecutive blue days, I took to staring out the window in a motherless-child sort of way while I waited for the caffeine to permeate.
Happy Mother’s Day.
I’d written it almost involuntarily in my morning journal. Then, the blue broke.
I would not be spending this day as I have most of my life– sending a card too late and listening to the disappointment on the other end of the phone. And I wouldn’t be spending it as I have the last few years– making calls to the various women in my life who have stepped in to mother me in different ways. I am thankful to them and their astounding patience and care to detail; but by the end of the day, I’d be exhausted with gratitude and still with the ache of someone who needs mothering.
So instead, I would be thankful to the only person who can fill the role.
Happy Mother’s Day to me, a responsible adult who has recently taken on the demanding-yet-rewarding task of mothering a human to good health and balanced meals. To me, who takes care of me when I am sick, and makes me take baths even when I don’t want to, and demands that I eat my vegetables because they are good for me. Happy Mother’s Day to me, who celebrates at the right time, always, even if the victory is not drinking for a month, or winning an independent music award, or selling something on my Etsy shop, or having three healthy bowel movements in a day exactly 30 minutes after eating (no small feat). To me, who gets me to my shows on time, knows exactly how I take my tea, and who makes me an incredible chickpea Vindaloo– and spends all day getting the flavor right– after I merely mentioned the craving.
I am mothering myself– and have been over the last year– and I am doing a bang-up job. Happy Mother’s Day, you fucking saint. There’s no one in the world who could do this better than you.
After I threw my self-loathing, over-compensating traditions in the nearest metaphorical trash can (which I keep right next to me), my Someone and I hopped into the truck with a bowl of oatmeal made exactly the way I like it, and drove to take a Mother’s Day hike. I didn’t tell him I was celebrating. He didn’t make me a card that was signed by the dogs. And I was thrilled to not hobble together a faint resemblance to what was supposed to happen. While we waited for our friends to meet us, my phone buzzed. It was Kris. Kris, who watched the early years of my family’s rejection– who was the first to confirm that something was wrong, that it wasn’t in my head. Kris, who I’d lost contact with over the details that were very important, then become unimportant when I saw a decade without her and wished she was still in it. Kris, who I reconciled with back in August, and has since felt like a distant heartbeat– now a mother herself– that carries on a stray wind up from Texas.
She said I wasn’t alone. She said she knew it was probably hard. She said everything this mother would like to hear on her special day. I tucked the message in my heart and said nothing, carrying it to the top of a small mountain that looked out over the Blue Ridge Mountains, then all the way back again. Then, I couldn’t keep it in any longer. Three hours and five miles later, I told my friends about my special Mother’s Day message from Kris. I wondered if anyone felt envious of what a good mother I am to me.
When I got back to the truck, a second message waited– this time from Audrey up in Indiana. Audrey has come in the last couple of years– a fan, then a friend, a mother herself who not only listened, but unraveled the story out of me so I didn’t carry it alone. She was thinking of me, too, on this day.
Before dinner, Gretchen was waiting on my phone, too. Her little one is getting bigger all the time, and I felt honored that she would take a moment out of her own day to make space for me.
Me. Mother of one. I congratulated myself on arriving at the end of the day feeling full, my ward still in tact and damn near happy. I congratulated myself for letting go of making it someone else’s responsibility to take care of me. And in turn, the universe yielded a bucketful of mothers, expecting nothing in return, not even my unending gratitude that might deplete me for all I used to scrape for it. I mothered myself, and the club showed up from every decade of my life to commiserate and encourage– yeah, it’s hard. It’s exhausting. But isn’t being a mother great?