Many Mother's Days
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day again. I have been through thirty-eight mother’s days. Whew! Thirty-eight years! Can it be? I decided to think back on mother’s days of the past.
Of course, top of the list: the births of my two beautiful redheads. Jenny April 20, 1977. Mary November 12, 1980. For a woman who thought she would never have children, they were both a wonderful surprise. I had prayed for a child. Then I prayed of a child to go with the first child. Two redheads is what I got. My husband was as stunned as I was. Especially on the second one as we had been living separate lives by then. Is there Immaculate Conception for human beings? Maybe not. But prayer apparently works.
In 1983, their father and I divorced. Such a sad time. Jenny was heartbroken. Mary was not so much as he had left us at her birth. She saw him on alternate weekends. Still the rift was there, not to be ignored. I was a basket case. No job. No money. My house sold out from under me. What a wimp I was not to demand more for me and my children. The year of the divorce, the girls gave me a huge microwave for Mother’s Day –Daddy out of guilt, having financed the purchase. Twenty years later, the poor old thing gave out, and I felt like I’d lost a beloved relative. Many a motherhood meal cooked in that microwave.
The second motherly milestone was when they both went to school. When Jenny went to kindergarten, I missed her, but I still had Mary. Jenny stormed school and got in trouble the first day for taking over the teacher’s lesson on letters. Mary on the other hand was happier at home. She was sensitive and shy. I finally had to encourage her to try school. But I was worse. My last child was leaving me. I had done nothing for eight mother’s days but hover over my children. The day I dropped Mary at kindergarten, I almost had a breakdown. The principal recognized my type and blocked me at the door. I cried all the way home and for two days after that.
As they progressed through grade school, mother’s days then were filled with homemade cards and homemade gifts when they couldn’t find Dad to foot the bill for flowers or candy. Of course, the homemade cards won my heart, and they remain collected in a box under my bed.
The intervening years were about growing up, for all of us. They as children. Me as a regressed adult. They were joyful years. Junior High, high school. We had those wonderful times of sharing school functions, the excitement of competitive sports, holidays and special occasions although I had to share them with their father. They were also difficult years as I fought depression. I never thought divorce would take me down like that. While I should have been a sassy role model for my girls, I think I was a bit of a wimp. By that time, they were employees of The Gap and the local slave driver restaurant and shared some of their paychecks to take me out or surprise me with something I had wished for.
As the girls graduated, went to college, and took opportunities to live abroad, I heard from them only occasionally. I have Mother’s Day cards from that time, and occasional gifts. Being a child of the fifties and sixties where families stuck together closer and took special occasions seriously, it was a shock to my system to have my life with them cut off. An email or a phone call was like a million dollar gift.
Since then, my girls have married and have lived some of the ups and downs I had experienced. It has brought them back to me. There was unspoken commiseration among us. And compassion. Mother’s Day gifts come now in a favorite duvet cover, a good set of pans and airfare to come and see them in New York. And they are working toward being mother’s themselves. Mary ended a conversation the other day with
“Hey, I am a mother now. (Seven months pregnant.) I should get a dinner out.” And off she went to find her lucky husband.