For Mother’s Day this year I celebrated in a much different way than I have celebrated my own Mother’s Days past. I slept. I slept pretty much the day away. Now don’t judge me. I worked the twelve hour night shift the night before. I earned that day’s sleep taking care of other people’s babies in the NICU through the night. Normally I don’t sign on to work Mother’s Day Eve or Mother’s Day because I want to be home with my own family but this year I signed on so that perhaps one of my “brand new mommy” co-workers could enjoy her own first Mother’s Day cuddling and kissing her own sweet baby. Colleagues of mine had stepped up for me in years past so I am just paying it forward. Besides, I knew that some of my babies would not be around that day as one would be swimming with dolphins in celebration of her own Mother’s Day and another would be nanny for a day for her dolphin-swimming big sister and another would be at work making delicious macchiatos and frappuccinos for other people’s mothers…I do hope that people tipped her!
No, my Mother’s Day was a perfect day for me. I slept peacefully grateful for the blustery, wet day because it is the perfect kind of weather to sleep in when one works the night shift. I lounged around the house in my favorite sweats the rest of the day with total command of the remote and I enjoyed a delicious brunch, er, dinner of grilled rib-eye steak with bleu cheese crumbles and tossed baby green salad at lovely table decorated with Mother’s Day bouquets and cards from my circus act. I also wore, for the first time, my Mother’s ring. No, not a mother’s ring. I wore the ring that once belonged to my Mother. For the first Mother’s Day in a very long time my own Mother was a part of the day for me as she gave me her birthstone ring that she received for her 30th birthday.
Our relationship has always been a very stormy, very painful one. It would take forever really to explain the hows and whys and yet it would likely not be a new story for some to hear. There just came a point in my life as an adult, as a mother, where I could not have my mother in my life. Not if I wanted to be the mother I wanted to be…the mother my children needed me to be. Surprisingly, my mother accepted this with nary a fight or a whimper. She just quietly shut that door and walked away. I remember part of me feeling so disappointed, so sad that she didn’t fight harder for us. But shutting that door was the right thing to do for me. Sometimes, it seems, even the worst of mothers make the best choices and willingly sacrifice for the sake of their children.
But now, years later, faced with the mortality of her own mother and their twisted, toxic relationship, my Mother made the first tentative overture in my direction to make amends. I have to say that at first, for days and then a few weeks, I kept my mother’s timid advances at arms’ length. Truth be told, I did not know what to do with this side of my own mother that I never knew.
She wanted to make amends?
She wanted me to try and forgive her?
She wanted to try and rebuild and restore our broken bond?Who was this woman and what did she do with my mother, I wondered?
But then I began to see her in a different light, a lot like when I saw my grandmother, her mother, in the ICU after a debilitating stroke. Suddenly she wasn’t something to be feared. She wasn’t someone with the power to hurt me or break me. Suddenly I saw my mother. No, not the mommy of my childhood and adult fantasies. She wasn’t the perfect combo of all the tender-hearted, long-suffering moms of my favorite childhood television shows of the 70s. She was just my mother. My mother who now was vulnerable and full of contrition.
I reached out my hand in her direction and accepted her reparations.
Today our relationship is not completely restored. It will take a lot of time, understanding and forgiveness from us both to build that bridge but we have started. As an act of her good faith as we begin this restoration process she gave me the opal ring she has worn every day since her 30th birthday.She took it off and gave it to me and on Mother’s Day I wore it and wished her a happy Mother’s Day and I truly meant it.