Mother's Day

Mother's Day is hard. It always has been.

I didn't want to go to church today. Mothers everywhere. Mother's Day in your face.
But I went.

We're in the process of cleaning my mom's house and packing her things.

It's hard for my sister and my niece. Less so for me, to pack up the things of this woman that I didn't know, but who somehow was my mother.

I said goodbye years ago.

I did, right?

I asked my sister if I could organize the photographs and letters, put them into order, and give them back to her. 

My mom and I fought. She was better than me. I was all wrong. My mom had everything under control. I needed to get my shit together and find Jesus...or something. We fought. And we fought. Until we didn't. Nothing but space between my mother and I.

I didn't like her. I didn't think she was honest.

But I took these photos and letters and documents home and I read and organized for hours and I did not meet the saintly mother that everyone spoke so highly of...


I met the mother who was human. Who struggled. Who suffered loss. Who was scared. Who was tired. Who struggled but cloaked her struggle in unhealthy coping mechanisms and so much kindness towards others that she didn't leave much for herself. 

She lied to me about who she was. She lied to herself about who I was. 

My mom was broken and flawed and human and she didn't know how to be broken and flawed and human so she tried to be perfect.

It doesn't work, mom. I tried that. I know.

I never really met my mom until she died. And now, it's like she's everywhere.

Lilies of the valley remind me of my mom. It's a positive association, from when I was much younger. I've tried for years to grow them, but they never came. 

Until this last month, right after my mom died.

Church today, and dread. I go early because I like to sit in a certain spot (with a quick escape route because anxiety anxiety anxiety). I also go early because the music keeps me still. 

I like the stillness.

My mom liked church music. There was only one song that my family really wanted played at my mom's celebration of life - "Oceans." They said it was her favorite. I'd never heard it before, but it's really beautiful. They played it at her celebration of life and the pastor spoke in depth about my mom and the meaning of that song.

I've never heard that song at my own church.

Until today. Mother's Day.

I cried and cried and cried through the whole thing.

Life is weird, right?

My mom is everywhere.

I know.... I KNOW... that my relationship with my mom was the only way it could have been. I still don't have any regrets about that. We weren't going to change each other. But it makes this whole thing...this appreciation for the side of her that we found in boxes in deep corners of closets, so's...'s hard. And beautiful. And eye-opening. And healing. And strange. And constant. And weird.

It's really weird.

I did not like my perfect mother. But I have so much respect and empathy and love for my broken, flawed human, struggling and trying so hard mom. That's the mom I wish I could have met before.

That's the mom I'm meeting now.

A friend from church posted this today and I thought it was beautiful and it fits even if it doesn't quite fit:

“They offered to take me sightseeing. We had time for only one major attraction: they suggested either Sonoma Valley or Muir Woods. I remembered the postcards and photographs of the redwood forests, where branches grew higher than houses, and cars could drive through trees. I chose the woods.
I knew nothing about redwoods, except what my mother had told me about their size – which, as it happened, was pretty accurate in Muir Woods, except for the part about the cars. I’d never seen trees so big.

As we shuffled through the ferns and sorrel, we reached a small, odd group of redwoods growing in a circle around a charred stump. The burned down trunk stood maybe six feet high, but the trees surrounding it were young and healthy. Park rangers call these clusters “the family circle”. The less botanically inclined usually call them – and I swear this is true – the mother tree and her daughters.
Nature often offers metaphors more elegant than any we can manufacture, and Muir Woods is no exception. Redwoods have evolved to turn disaster into opportunity. In these coastal forests, death produces life.

This is what I mean: In the redwood exosystem, buds for future trees are contained in pods called burls, tough brown knobs that cling to the bark of the mother tree. When the mother tree is logged, blown over, or destroyed by fire – when, in other words, she dies – the trauma stimulates the burls’ growth hormones. The seeds release, and trees sprout around her, creating the circle of daughters. The daughter trees grow by absorbing the sunlight their mother cedes to them when she dies. And they get the moisture and nutrients they need from their mother’s root system, which remains intact underground even after her leaves die. Although the daughters exist independently of their mother above ground, they continue to draw sustenance from her underneath.

I am fooling only myself when I say my mother exists now only in the photograph on my bulletin board or in the outline of my hand or in the armful of memories I still hold tight. She lives on beneath everything I do. Her presence influenced who I was, and her absence influences who I am. Our lives, are shaped as much by those who leave us as they are by those who stay. Loss is our legacy. Insight is our gift. Memory is our guide.”

Motherless Daughters
The Legacy of Loss
Hope Edelman

Life is weird ...people tell you how to feel and you tell yourself how you're going to feel but the truth is, we just don't know how life is going to hit us.  

This is hard...

...and life is weird and full of struggle and loss and confusion and pain and light and joy and suffering and loss and...

... And we keep going because there's beauty and wonder and love and amazement and...

We keep going.

We just keep going.

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