By Alexis Marie Chute
Special to Inside The Pew
Many moms relish Mother’s Day as a chance to have breakfast made for them – for a change. Or to have an uninterrupted bubble bath, minus the toys. Or to simply be thanked. Mother’s Day is advertised well, with cards, flowers, and gifts of any imaginable product, all geared towards the hard-working, over-tired, and much deserving mom.
But what about the mother of a mom?
When women have children of their own, they enter this wonderful club of motherhood. Still, the bond with one’s own mother remains, like an invisible umbilicord, connecting heart to heart. It is without doubt that mothers and daughters share a sacred bond. It is this bond that makes Mother’s Day all the more heartbreaking when your own mother is unwell or has died.
Many young children believe their parents know all the answers and have this “life-thing” figured out. When you grow up, you realize that your parents are mere mortals, just fellow people figuring things out as they go. This is a startling realization in and of itself. Then, when your parents get sick, you realize they will not live forever. When your mother or father dies, the ache can be felt with each heartbeat, leaving you with a sense of loneliness, as if your foundational protection has been lifted.
Coping through Mother’s Day when you are caring for your ailing mother, or missing her larger-than-life presence, is challenging. Sometimes there are no words of comfort that make even a dent on the sadness you feel. Here are a few ways to redeem Mother’s Day for you:
Shut off the social and be present.
We spend much of our lives distracted by things that do not matter. Social media is a perfect example of this. Instead of updating your Facebook status or Instagram-ming the card your kids made for you – be with your kids! If you mom is still alive and within driving distance: Visit her. And lock your phone in your car if it’s too much of a temptation.
You know social media will be abuzz with Mother’s Day posts anyway and these in-your-face messages prompt the agony you feel for your mom and her pain. Shut them all off. Avoid the social media comparison game. Avoid seeing the pictures of your peers with their healthy mothers. When you logout, and wake-up to the present moment, you will see it for the gift that it is. You will feel alive and free, appreciating every minute of the life you have the privilege of living as a daughter to your mother and as a mom yourself.
Create and re-live memories.
If your mom has passed, take intentional time to be still and think about her. Get in a meditative state where you breathe deeply and do not wiggle around. Close your eyes and picture your mother. Remember her smell. Remember the way she said things to you: was she firm or tender? A jokster or a straight-shooter? Think back to trips you may have taken together or your weekly lunch dates or family holidays. Think about the lessons she taught you and the physical features of your body that came from her. Remember and celebrate your mother in spirit, her warts and all.
If your mother is alive, it is not too late to create new memories. The weekly lunch dates can take place at her home or hospital room. Surprise her with flowers and her favorite book, which you can read to her; or her favorite board game if she is still able to play. Give her a massage, the gift of touch. Take her for a walk in her wheelchair and start up a round of eye spy. Tell each other stories about your lives. And whatever you do, take as many photos and video as you can. These will become cherished keepsakes later on.
Let the feelings come.
Don’t get stuck in fretting about the “right things” to do or say for your mother if she’s ailing. Just do your best. Similarly, there is no one right way to grieve, and no singular perfect way to remember your mom’s life. Be graceful and kind with yourself. Everyone knows you are doing the best you can – and what other people think doesn’t matter anyway. What you think and feel is what counts. If you are feeling blue, let your tears flow. If anger is bubbling up in your chest at the fact that your mother passed from a tragic illness: Be mad! Give yourself permission. Go for a run till you’re winded, beat-up your duvet, scream till your throat throbs. Get out the feelings, whatever they are. The sense of release will be tangible afterwards.
“Life is not fair.” Those are the words likely every child everywhere has said to his or her parent at one point or another growing up. We can feel this injustice just the same as adults. There is never enough time with the ones we love, true. While Mother’s Day may feel like a kick-in-the-pants right when you are praying hard for a miracle, choose to see it as an opportunity. A chance to celebrate your mother, at whatever state of health she may be in, or to celebrate her in spirit as you remember her amazing life. If you have children of your own, tell them about their grandmother. We keep memories alive through the stories we share.
Alexis Marie Chute is the author of the award-winning memoir Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss, available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Alexis Marie is a writer, artist, filmmaker, public speaker, and bereavement expert. Learn more about her book and documentary, Expecting Sunshine: The Truth About Pregnancy After Loss, at www.ExpectingSunshine.com. She is a healthy-grief advocate educating others on how to heal in creative and authentic ways.
Connect with Alexis Marie Chute on Facebook, LinkedIn Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, and at www.AlexisMarieChute.com, www.ExpectingSunshine.com, www.WantedChosenPlanned.com, www.AlexisMarieArt.com, and www.AlexisMarieWrites.com.