mother’s day can be bittersweet

I woke up. Showered. Came back to find the bed freshly made and the little pillows properly placed. I love clean sheets. I’m such a domestic, no? And on the pillow, on my side of the bed, is a card.

Now, I’ve never gotten a card for Mother’s Day before. But these days, I’m feeling more and more like a mother. I told little one that I needed to stop and get cards for my mother and grandmother when a Mother’s Day ad came on the radio. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Can we get cards for my mom for Mother’s Day and her birthday?” “Sure.” So we did, and we picked it out, and we made her siblings sign it.

But I guess that was enough to make her think, “Should we do something for [Kitten] for Mother’s Day, too?”

So she asked my partner, her dad, about it. What are we going to do for [Kitten]? I’m not sure, he said. She’s not exactly a mother, but– She is definitely a mother, she cried out indignantly, not realizing he was playing her and coaxing the answer out of her. He wanted it to come from her, not from him. Yeah, she’s a really good mom, said her brother. So they picked out a card, just right for me, and wrote a message, just for me.

I know how they feel about their mother. About this day. And it made me feel so good inside that they could put that aside and still make this a wonderful day for them and for me. They couldn’t be with me today, but they insisted on me texting them about their “dad’s news when I found out” so they could know my reaction. Because they wanted me to like it. And I loved it. And his mom bought me roses and caramels. And he made sure I had a lovely lunch and a restful afternoon. I couldn’t have asked for more.

But it didn’t make the hard feelings in my head any less hard. It just helped give me something good to balance the hard bits.

For all you mothers and daughters and sons for whom Mother’s Day is a painful day, I see you. I know how it can feel. I can’t say I know your exact pains, but I do know that what you feel is real and valid. And I hope you, too, have ways to sweeten the day. Children who love you. A mother who loves you, even if she didn’t give birth to you.

If this day, though, is tragic or painful, still, please know that it’s okay to feel the way you do. If you’ve lost a child or a mother, through betrayal or through the cold hard reality of time. Whatever it is, please know that you are not alone. And if the day holds joy for you and pain, that is okay, too. And if it only holds joy, I am glad for you.

Whatever you feel, I see you.

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