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Mother’s Day is Weird When You Don’t Have a Mother

I raised my hand to ask my second grade teacher whether I could write, “Happy Mother’s Day” on the construction paper tulip pots. It was for my grandmother since my mom had died two years prior. She said of course. I probably didn’t need to ask, but I had somehow become more conscious that year that Mother’s Day is different for me than it was for my peers. My tulips were white.

It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday, a complicated day for me, as I imagine likewise for some of you as well.

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Photo Credit: Gabrielle Rocha Rios

It conjures up certain feelings – or “Dead Mom Feelings” as Kate Spencer, author of the book Dead Moms Club coined. A weird pang of grief mixed with thoughts of, “what would it have been like if she had still been alive?” pass my mind. I wonder if I’d be hunting through stores, reading countless guides to find that perfect present for mom that shows just how grateful I am for her.

To be honest, I don’t know.

I am not sure if she and I would have gotten along. I imagine we would have, as she was apparently the nicest person in the world, from what others tell me. But the reality is, I just don’t know.

What do those who have... ‘complex’ relationships with their living mothers feel on Mother’s Day?  The daughters whose stepmothers were less than kind; the sons who felt like their mothers were never around, and the children who were constantly criticized for their weight, their grades, and even their choice in mates -- do they feel weird passing by dozens of pink roses at Targets, or through breakfast buffets teeming with happy looking families?  

Let’s be real, there are terrible mothers out there. However, as I get older and see just how much the role demands, I can’t help but think that it’s often a thankless job – for all mothers, good or bad, alike. Mothers put in innumerable hours by their sick children’s bedsides or in after school pick up queues. Some even have to take up the roles of fathers. They give their hearts and souls to the humans they’ve created and choose to be in the lives of. I mean, look how much Lily Potter gave up or all that Mrs. Weasley does.

Mothers come in the form of mentors, neighbors and friends as well -- watching out for their "kids" in the workplace, praying for them in churches at all hours, and constantly checking in on and encouraging those they’ve adopted as “sons and daughters.”

So as quickly as my heart misses my mom, it’s immediately filled with gratitude for my aunties who consoled me through my first real heartbreak, my alumnae who listened to me with patience and care after my first manager called me out and I thought I’d never be able to recover, and my mentors who walked with me through my depression even going through the entire David’s Bridal website for me to get an idea of what I wanted in a wedding dress.

I don’t have a mother, but I have countless others who have stepped up into that role.  

So go ahead, all you queens; have the day. You gave and continue to give so much so that all your “kids” can know what it means to be cared for. Let someone else give you rest for a change.  

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