How To Cope Near Mother’s Day When You Don’t Have a Mother

Early May is when it REALLY stinks to be motherless. It’s like every store and commercial is shouting Go Hug Your Mom! Go Shopping With Your Mom! Go Out To Eat With Your Mom! Go Celebrate Your Mom! Except you can’t. Because your mother is dead. Or your mother is otherwise absent from your life. And that sucks.

Walking by the card section at Target

Walking by the card section at Target you can’t avoid the huge display of Mother’s Day cards.

I feel your pain. I lost my mom to cancer when I was 23. To make the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day a little more bearable, I try to be grateful that I got to have my mom for 23 years because I know that many people aren’t that lucky. The way I summon gratitude is by remembering the funny or touching moments that defined my mom.

So, all of you motherless people out there, let’s celebrate our mothers even though they aren’t physically with us anymore. Let’s tell stories about them. I’ll start.

The fall of my senior year in high school, I wrecked my knee playing soccer. The doctor told me that it would be a year after surgery before I could conceivably play again, but never at the same level, and that I would be in extensive physical therapy during that year. My dream of playing college soccer was dashed. On the way home from the doctor’s office in New York City after hearing the bad news, I lay in the back seat with my leg outstretched in a huge brace and sobbed. My mother drove down 7th avenue and kept looking at me in the rear view mirror, tortured. There was nothing she could do to make it better and it was killing her. Suddenly, though, there was something she could do.

She cranked the wheel. We swerved across three lanes of traffic and lurched to a stop in a no parking zone. My mother rolled down her window and called to a man walking a tiny yellow Labrador puppy.

“Excuse me, Sir? Yes, you. Hi! Would you let my daughter pet your puppy for a second? She just heard some really bad news and your puppy is so cute. I know it would make her feel better. She’s in the back.”

“Mom! Stop!” I hissed, swatting tears off my cheeks. “He doesn’t care!”

To my surprise, the man shrugged, gathered up the little furball and opened the backseat door. He carefully placed the adorable creature on my lap and it slobbered all over my face, its kisses and puppy breath and fat little belly exactly what I needed. I temporarily forgot about my throbbing knee. After a few minutes the man took his dog, we thanked him and Mom merged back into traffic.

“See?” she said.

Then she took me to the video store to rent The Other Side of The Mountain, which she thought would put things in perspective for me. She was right. The main character in that movie became paralyzed after her ski accident. I could deal with one bum knee.

Whenever I remember that brisk November day, I don’t think about my lost college soccer career, or the pain I was in. Instead, I think about how fortunate I was to have a mother who loved me so much that she would go to unbelievable, embarrassing lengths to make me feel better.

I told that story to an acquaintance recently but the significance was lost on her – she still has her mother. “Your mother sounds crazy,” the woman said. Yes, maybe my mom was a little bit crazy in mostly funny ways. But I was the recipient of her crazy love. And I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

OK. Now it’s your turn. What do you remember about your mom?

Mom and me in Boston two years before she died.

Mom and me in Boston two years before she died.


6 thoughts on “How To Cope Near Mother’s Day When You Don’t Have a Mother

  1. Julie: Great story and even greater mother. Miss mine so awfully that I really haven’t look forward to Mother’s Day since 2007 but then I remember her unconditional love and the blessing of having children of my own. The pain doesn’t go fully away but my mom could always smile and the least I can do is smile for my kids. Bittersweet but a happy memory. Thanks for sharing.


  2. I find it so hard to deal with Mother’s Day–I just wrote a post about how I feel torn between missing my mom so much on this holiday and needing to celebrate with my own kids. It’s really complicated for me.
    I love this idea of sharing stories about moms. I keep trying to think of a story, but really my best memories of my mom are just sitting at the kitchen counter while she made dinner. I think that’s what I miss most– just being in her presence and talking over the day.


  3. This was a really nice but sad story. I’m sorry about your mom. I can’t imagine what it must be like on mother’s day without your own mom. I guess it makes it even weirder because you are a mom yourself so you have to be happy for your own kids even though you might be a little sad inside. Luckily, mother’s day is over for this year. I’m sure it doesn’t get any easier the rest of the time, but at least everyone isn’t force feeding mother’s day promotions the other 11 months.


  4. Pingback: My Mother’s Dying Wish (With Apologies to the Fine People of Lubbock, Texas*) | The Gratitudenist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s