Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Out of the Gray

I think that there is something about this seemingly never-ending winter and my raging seasonal affective disorder that has got my mind already travelling to spring and got my heart stuck on Mother’s Day. And it made me wonder, did you ever imagine what your life would be like? Did you ever have a moment, where the reality of living out a scene from the life imagined was just so shockingly different from the life-long fantasy that you literally felt stuck somehow, like there was some murky uncomfortable gray area that defined the space between the path you thought your life would take and the path it actually did? It’s a dark, sticky, murky, sucky, uncomfortable space. That space between what was supposed to be and what is.

Which is exactly where I landed on my first Mother’s Day as a mother. All of us have different visions of where they think their lives will twist and turn and lead them, but I always knew that somehow, some way, mine would lead me toward motherhood. And in my fantasy land version of that first Mother’s Day, I pictured me holding this adorable baby, celebrating on a sunny day outside with my own mother, 3 generations of strength and mothering all coming together and celebrating the milestone of it being my very first time to be both the honorer, and the honoree.
In the end, my first Mother’s Day as a mother was on May 11, 2008, exactly 6 days after I buried my own mother. It was my first Mother’s Day without a mother. There were no smiles or sunshine (although I kind of remembering it being sunny – I just didn’t feel sunny). There was no multi-generational picture of mothers and mothers of mothers grinning at each other and their children for a memorable photo. No funny cards or flowers. Just raw. It was the first time I can genuinely say that Mother’s Day hurt, like walking around all day long with this throbbing open sore on my chest. I think Phil gave me a card. I thought little of Dylan and my own special growing bond with him, and mostly of my own sadness. I counted the hours till it was over.

In some ways, I spent much of Dylan’s first year that way, thinking not nearly enough of the mother I wanted to be – only of the mother and the fantasy I’d lost. Of Mother’s Days and first birthdays and baby clothes and silent giggles and knowing looks and that feeling that finally we have this whole new level where we get each other, not just as mother and daughter, but as mother and mother. I spent too much time stuck in the gray of missing what wasn’t. And in doing so, I almost missed what was.
Amazingly, 5 years have gone by. My chubby baby has grown into a handsome little almost kindergartner. We’ve added a little ray of Joy to our family too. And I am finally learning to enjoy the Mother’s Day that is. In part what has helped is starting a few of my own new traditions for that day. One thing I share with my mother is our complete inability to grow anything. She didn’t have a green thumb. Love her as I did, she was more the black widow of plants, an unfortunate trait I’ve inherited. But Mother’s Day is the one time of year I pretend and actually enjoy attempting to garden.

It is the time of year when the local nursery puts out its first flowers for planting, just safely past most of chilly nights and spring frost. I love going and finding colors that are pretty and bright and remind me that the white and brown of winter is finally drawing to a close. I love finding that one spot in the yard where I can actually grow stuff and getting on my knees and digging into the soft earth and carefully giving those delicate young plants some extra soil, a little water, a little extra attention. I love marking that from that day on and every day after that spring and summer, I will have the great fortune of getting to watch them grow. It’s the same gift I gave my mother for all those years. It is the gift they now give to me. Indeed, it is a present. Out of the gray and in full living color - it is the present.

It is the very best gift indeed.


  1. That was beuatful, Jenn. I can somewhat relate because my Dad passed away on the boys third birthday. There birthday that year was just horrible. The next year I found it so diffcult to be planning a celebration on the anniversary of his death. I came to realize with how much he loved those boys he would not want me to be sad on that day. He would want to us to celebrate their birthday and also celebrate the memory of an awesome Dad.

    1. Thank you Jennifer - so glad you connected with it- what an awesome way to remember I'm sure an awesome Dad :)