Dear Mom whose child I scolded so passive aggressively in the Mother’s Day card aisle,
I am sorry that I broke the international code of mothers (Thou Shalt Avoid Being Judgy Out Loud about How Other Moms Manage their Kids in Public) and audibly mumbled, “Please make it stop,” when your kid wouldn’t close the musical card in the Mother’s Day aisle.
I should have kept my mouth shut, or just asked you more directly. I really appreciated how you immediately took the card away from him and made it stop without pausing to give me dagger eyes or tell me to mind my own business, both of which would have been within your rights. And I know you and your friend meant no harm with your chitter chatter about how often you forget to get a card on time for your own moms.
You see, I wasn’t my best self. I had accidentally just read “The Card.” The one I try to steer clear of every year by focusing on the “Sister” or “Grandma” sections of the aisle, asking my dear husband to get my card for his mom so I don’t have to linger in the “Mom” section and accidentally find it. “The Card”—the one that is perfect for my mom, but my mom is gone, and she can’t receive that card anymore, not this year, not any year.
I know what you probably think. Oh, poor thing, you must hate Mother’s Day. A lot of my other brothers and sisters in the motherless world do, and I sometimes even “like” their Facebook posts when they decry their annoyance with Mother’s Day. But I don’t hate it. My mother loved it. I love my grandmothers, my mother-in-law, my aunts, my sisters, my friends, and most of all my kids, so I don’t see a reason to hate it. But there are things I hate in these weeks before. Let me explain.
I hate the card aisle. “The Card” is always lingering there, and it stings when I open it. It seems to catch me every year. Its popping colors lure me in, robbing me of the strength I mustered from deep inside walking up to the aisle and turning into a puddle of tears on the floor. I so want to buy and deliver all of the cards I set into the aisle to acquire, but “The Card” trips me up and reminds me of what I am not able to express by buying a simple card and gift.
Unexpectedly, that’s what I hate most—not buying it.
For the two weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, I have this unformed thought in my head. This feeling that I am forgetting something. On autopilot, I walk up to a beautiful scarf or a pair of sophisticated yet crafty earrings that my mom would love. The thought crystallizes—“This is what she’ll love. This is what I’ll get her for Mother’s….” It is followed by reason, and then I finally remember what that forgetting itch was. I can’t get her “The Card,” and I can’t get her the gift that goes with it. I have lots of moms I love, but the one whom I most loved, the one I most loved declaring my adoration for, is gone. With her went that fulfilling feeling of watching her receive a small thing that embodied a piece of that adoration.
I can make it through Mother’s Day itself, sometimes even without tears. I have made it through the hardest part, you see, the not preparing to celebrate my own mom. When I am over that hump, I can appreciate the time with my family. I think of my mom’s high expectations for what I would do in this day if she wasn’t here, that I would focus all my energy on celebrating with the people who are here, and I try extra hard to do just that.
So, fellow mom, I am sorry you caught me in what is the worst moment of Mother’s Day. I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day. I hope we all do. Please go buy something nice for your mom, something that only she could love as much as she will. I am sorry I can’t do that too, but my mom and I will both feel better if you do it in her memory.