When your mother dies, Mother’s Day is no longer about you being a mother. It becomes a day to remember your own mother. Ironically, in 2012, my mother and I both knew that she was dying and would not live to see another Mother’s Day.
“This is our last Mother’s Day,” she said to me matter-of-factly, looking up at me from her wheelchair.
“I know,” I said with tears welling up in my eyes, reaching for her hand.
“But I don’t want you to be sad next year when I’m gone,” she said earnestly, squeezing my hand with what little mobility she had left. “Promise me, you won’t let my death ruin Mother’s Day.”
That’s how she was, worrying about me even as she was dying of brain cancer. But that’s what we do as mothers. We carry on despite the obstacles that face us — sickness, stress, and pure exhaustion to name a few.
Mothers can’t just quit when they’re having a bad day. They can’t take a break from parenting. By definition, our great level of responsibility for our families requires us to persevere at work, at home, and in the world even when we don’t feel like it.
I was looking back through some memorabilia of my mother’s the other day and I found a card that I had given her on Mother’s Day sometime in my early to mid-twenties. Yellowed, and taped to the back of a card was a short homage to mothers that I had obviously clipped from something.
“Dear God, thank you for my mother. She gave me the space to grow, the solitude to discover, the responsibility to serve. And she held my hand when the growth, discovery or service caused sadness, injury or uneasiness.”
I’m not sure where it came from, or why it touched a nerve for me as a young woman, but today, as I reflect on this passage, I know it to be true more than ever. This wish for my Mother’s Day is that someday this passage will hold true for my girls.
I can only hope.
Amanda Lamb is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.