I can finally say that the month of May is not what it used to be. This weekend was my happiest Mother's Day to date, and I'll be silently wishing my Mom a happy birthday on the 18th in a happy-sad way, not a sad-sad way. I can't help but to think back in gratitude to how far I've come from my first Mother's Day--it was both my first as a mom and my first without my mom. What compounded the difficulty was how it was spent: At a Chinese restaurant in Moraga with my in-laws. No one mentioned my Mom. No one addressed the particularly bittersweet day or asked me how I was doing. In short, I gots no love. At the time, I didn't want to come off as me-me-me (that's what a blog is for, right?), and I didn't want to force anyone to acknowledge my pain. So I went, I remained polite, I listened to a speech about what a great day it was for my MIL, (hell, I even fended off a coupla pot-shots regarding my brand new parenting skills!) and I crumpled in an exhausted heap of tears and post-partum sobs when I stepped back onto my own hearth and slammed the door shut in relief. In other words, I held it in rather than bring something up that would ruin that day for others. But would it have ruined the day? How hard would it have been to extend a warm embrace, a few words of encouragement? A squeeze of a hand and a simple "We're here for you, and everything is going to be okay?" Apparently, too hard. Too hard to even try.
So I went to brunch that day, 10 weeks post-partum, maintained my usual quiet/polite public face, walked around the too-sunny shopping center after brunch in a hormonal daze, wondering if it was just me or if people could really be that clueless? I don't know why that particular day remains so clear in my memory, but it was a day in which I learned the strengths I was capable of and the relationships that should (and eventually would) be shed.
Today, I have come into my own. No longer is Mother's Day or my mom's birthday a few days later so heartwrenching. I have taken steps to make sure I am surrounded by those who I can reveal my truest self to and trust that they are my soft place to fall. And having lived this experience, I have been able to comfort those who have faced similar losses, holding their hand and telling them all those things I so desperately needed to hear that first Mother's Day without my Mom. This isn't a memory I think of often, but when May rolls around, I am more grateful than ever that it is firmly in the past.
4 months ago