My First Mother’s Day As A New Mama
The first time I experienced a Mother’s Day as a mother, I was about seven months postpartum with my firstborn. The fog of postpartum had started to lift and there were days I was starting to slowly feel and think like myself again, like dipping a toe in familiar water, but the trip wires were still present and could easily send me back into the fog and the closest emotion to the surface of the iceberg was rage.
My husband was waiting for me to get up that morning, he was smiling and happy and I was sleep-deprived and grumpy. He stood in our living room, spread his arms wide open and said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”
“What’s with the balloons?” I asked.
There were balloons on our banister, leading to upstairs.
Lots of them.
“I decorated?” He offered.
My brain couldn’t come up with anything to say but I was feeling a whole lot of strong emotion that was starting to rise to the surface.
Then I looked up.
On our wall, my husband had hung a painting of my son and me.
Seeing it, I started crying.
Gave him the baby, sobbed out a few words, words I won’t repeat here and went back to the bedroom.
This was not the reaction my husband was expecting.
Baffled, awhile later, he asked me what was wrong.
In this state, I was befuddled as to why he couldn’t grasp the problem.
“I hate the painting”, I said.
The painting depicted me holding my infant son. The infant had on a hat.
The hat, this close postpartum, reminded me of the hospital birth that wasn’t supposed to happen but did.
Seeing the painting brought back all those complex feelings and I could feel my heart racing and I felt hurt.
I couldn’t believe that he would give me this painting, on Mother’s Day, it was a reminder that the birth didn’t go as planned.
He, of course, couldn’t believe that I upset by this painting that he had lovingly created.
“I was trying to show you how beautiful the connection is between you and our son”, my husband said.
“Well, it backfired”, I said.
“What do you want?” my husband asked me.
“You don’t have to give me anything.”
“But its Mother’s Day”, he said.
I didn’t want anything. There was nothing he could give me that would fix this or soothe my hurting heart.
“I want to go see my mom”, I said.
When I was seven months pregnant, my mother was diagnosed with dementia and I missed her a lot.
I wished she was beside me during those first days of motherhood and I felt sad she couldn’t be the grandma she would have loved to have been if circumstances were different.
We went to see my mom and my family.
It was seeing my mom interact with our son and my son being dotted on by family that soothed my heart.
We got home later that night and my husband asked me, “is there anything i can get you?”
“Maybe we can call for takeout?”
“There’s nothing you want?”
“An ebook”, I joked.
He called for takeout and bought me an ebook and it took a while but eventually we laughed about the painting and balloons.
Mother’s Day Without Your Mother
Feels like something is missing.
Last year was my first time experiencing mother’s day without my mom.
I’m winging this mama gig as I go on here, but I do think that going about it without your mama is not ideal. There is a kind of shadow grief that is always close by and the grief felt more apparent on the day dedicated to celebrating your mother
I did spend part of the day showing my kids pictures of them with my mom when they were babies and it helped to move those feelings of grief to appreciation and love and to feel the connection of my mom again.
The connection between mothers and their children, while universally understood is also intimately individual, because relationships belong to the people who are in them.
This year, I feel more peace than grief and a more open heart than a sheltered one and I found new ways to honour the relationship between my mom and myself.
Through the years between my first mother’s day and the first one without my mom, I’ve realized what I don’t need on mother’s day and what I do need.
What I Don’t Need on Mother’s Day
I don’t need balloons I don’t need my children to tell me how much they love me it isn’t the responsibility of my children to fill my emotional needs, I never want them to feel the pressure of obligation, on Mother’s Day or any other day. I don’t want our kids to feel as if they have to give me flowers or a card or a token of their appreciation.
I don’t want my husband to feel pressured to do anything because his partnership is what makes it possible for me to mother in the way I strive to, all that more achievable.
What I Do Need on Mother’s Day
I need a break.
And not asleep till noon, drop the kids off and go to Mexico kind of break, but a break from justifying I need a break, because “moms deserve it.”
I need a break from the grass is greener if I was a full time working mom or if I was a mom who had kids in school.
I need a break from letting those occasional thoughts stray outside of my home, into wondering how mothering is going, over on in yours.
A break from wondering how the future is going to look and grace to zero in on the connections taking place alongside relationships forming, right now.
I want to revel in motherhood, I want to breathe in the magick of mothering these two beautiful children, without the next thought being, “but it’s hard.”
When it comes to motherhood, no one is quick to point out it should be easy.