May seems to be booby-trapped with surprise triggers. I start out the day hopeful and something small sets me off emotionally. It’s going to be an interesting month. But we are 1/3 of the way through so I’m feeling positive…just being watchful and gentle on myself.
I had a wonderful pre-mother’s day week with Justine. One of the great things about her being in Pre-K, is that they still make a BIG deal about Mother’s Day. There were extra hugs and kisses for days, saying how much she appreciated me, singing songs, making drawings. On Friday, the school put on a sweet luncheon and mini-performance for the mothers. And I was given the best coffee mug I’ve ever had.
But for some reason, when the day actually came, I just wanted to hide under the covers and sleep all day. I wanted to act like anything BUT a mother. Why? Why would this be a trigger for tears? I guess because it’s a day that we always did something something as a family. And Vernon wasn’t here to make sure it happened.
Fortunately, my dear friend Melissa, who we had spent the afternoon with last Mother’s Day, had called to see if I wanted to meet up with her family again this year for a picnic on the grounds of a local winery. Vernon took me there the past two years, and last year, Melissa came with her husband and child down from LA, meeting her parents and her brother’s family from San Diego at this halfway point. She worried that doing the same thing again without my husband would be difficult for me, but I assured her it was probably just what the doctor would order.
It was true. Revisiting a tradition was enough to get us out the door. Being around other mothers that I dearly love reminded me this day wasn’t about ME (and my memories) at all. I was just a part of a bigger whole—as always. The world is full of mothers…even if a woman doesn’t become one, she came from one.
What about my own mom? I should have been celebrating her, rather than feeling sorry for myself that morning. But you know where she was? She was with my dad, taking the day off to visit their son-in-law, Vernon. She is beyond wonderful…always offering her available time to help me with the kids and Vernon. Giving me support on every level. She’s the one I should have been honoring yesterday! (We did visit her later in the day, by the way.)
She is also the one that used to tell me, if you are feeling down, find someone else to help. I guess it goes for giving as well. When you are feeling empty, give your focus to someone else.
And so I want to take a moment here to honor another mother that I have come to appreciate. Maki’s mother, Synnove. When Maki was seven years old, she made a huge sacrifice…to allow Maki to live with his dad full time. Its complicated…there were several countries involved. I know that it was most likely the hardest thing she did. But she wanted to give her son what at the time would make him happiest. Though I didn’t know her well at the time, I’ve long admired her for that. Vernon and Maki had always been extremely close. Most mothers would think of their own happiness over their child’s and justify their actions. But she didn’t. She thought of her son. And when the accident happened, without a moment’s hesitation, she flew across the world to be with her son. She didn’t take him away, she let him face the story as he was able to. She just wanted to be with him in case he needed her. Of course, he did.
So I always keep her in mind as I am privileged to help raise Maki. I have come to know his mother more this year than I ever have and its been one of the true delights of the journey. She has been a wonderful support to our family. Her own father had a stroke when she was in her twenties so she has learned a lot about the long road of neurological recovery first-hand and she has been able to relate very much to our family’s story.
And then there is Justine. What a sleepless joy she has been since day one. She makes it so I can’t feel sorry for myself for long. I can try to pull the covers over my head and within that hour she is jumping on me: “Get up! Get up!” My ultimate warrior against self-pity. And the two kids together help me stay grounded. They are just being kids, but the fact that I have them to come home to every day is such a big deal…the real deal. They bring the normal and sweet and funny into my life and I am so grateful for it.
I’ve always admired the modern family. Those people who figure it out despite having mixed-parents/marriages/children. I know it can work and even when Vernon was around, I had believed that one day we would all be friends. It can happen. It SHOULD happen. If we are to survive, we need to put our differences behind us and love and support one another. And not just for the kids…its good for the adults too!
When I tell Vernon about all this, he smiles and says ” that’s cool.”
And even though its celebrated on a different day in the UK, I want to say happy Mother’s Day to Vernon’s mother, Joan…who was just here visiting in March. Its been difficult for her to be so far away from her son, watching the drama and recovery unfold from afar. So we send our love and hugs to her today. We love you, Mum/Nana! xoxo