How was your Mother’s Day? I’ve been thinking of all you women with circles incomplete, lines half-drawn, plans erased. Those of you who have lost children or lost mothers. Those of you aching to be mothers. Those of you who are mothers going it alone. My arms around you on this holiday.
It was a tender one for me. But happy too. Because I love celebrating women.
I loved taking flowers to several women who have mothered me in unique ways. I loved telling my sisters how much I admire their devoted mothering, how they work for and serve their families. I loved visiting with my mother-in-law, who is a Saint. I’m pretty sure God sent her into my life to teach me all kinds of things about family, organization, and selflessness.
And I loved taking flowers to the cemetery for my Mom. Her headstone finally in place.
Isn’t it beautiful? My Dad put so much thought into every detail.
I love the wedding rings, the Idaho Falls Temple where they were married, and the list of our names, all my siblings, at the bottom. It helps me feel the strength of temple ties that will keep us together beyond death.
With church and celebrations at home and a visit to Doug’s Mom, we didn’t have time to make it to the cemetery. So I went alone the following day, Monday. A thunderstorm had just rolled in. There was lightning to the south, the west, and the east. Then it calmed and there was just rain. Steady, with a kind of stillness.
I went alone to the cemetery. Doug was helping the boys with pinewood derby cars, Sami on piano, Ali doing homework, Eliza in the shower. It seemed the perfect opportunity to sneak away unnoticed.
I was the only person at the cemetery. Not another car. Not another soul.
Later, I wrote my feelings:
Mom, I wish I didn’t have to leave this bouquet of sunshine for you on cold granite, rain dancing on the letters of your name. I wish I could have slipped these yellow petals of joy into your warm hands and kissed your forehead. Instead, I pulled the hood of my raincoat back and looked up into the gray sky to talk to you, hear you, feel the water on my face. Because rain washes away most things, if we let it. I miss you like crazy Mom.
I thought you’d like to hear the sound of the rain. See it dancing. When I was a child I would sit on our front porch, tucked out of the rain, and listen. A few times I took our old tape recorder outside so I could record the sound and play it later in my room. I love the sound of rain.
Last night, as I stood alone over her slicked headstone, the rain washed away my tears. And while I miss my Mom terribly, I know she is so very happy. I feel it. She is involved in our lives. She is with us.
I walked a few yards behind me to the tree with wind chimes in it and rang the chimes. I love the sound, makes me feel like my Mom is close. I don’t know why. Then I returned to the car and drove home.
On Mother’s Day the girls gave me some sweet vases of flowers they had made.
The boys filled out questionnaires at church with silly answers like I’m zero years old, my favorite food is barf, and I forget everything. Har har. Ya know. How to make your Mom feel good on Mother’s Day.
But Doug made my day with breakfast, a wonderful roast dinner, a new nonstick frying pan, and a treasure hunt that led to a surprise trip in the fall to see Hamilton in the big apple. This will probably be my anniversary, birthday, and mother’s day loaded into one. (We celebrate 19 years this week. Say what?)
Yes, I know we’ll be the last ones to see Hamilton. But the first time I heard the music, I decided I wanted to see it in New York City. Nowhere else. So we skipped tickets in Salt Lake (extremely tempting though) and I cannot wait for this fun adventure. Revolution here we come!
Of course, it wouldn’t be Mother’s Day without someone having a fit and refusing to be in the photo. Can you use the process of elimination to guess which one?
Yup. Even minutes later she didn’t want anything to do with me. Not even for a quick photo of just me and my Ali girl together.
So I tackled her. And I’m bigger. So I won. (Ok, I didn’t really tackle her. She gave in. Reluctantly.)
Sami was happy for a pic.
Liza too. But Spencer preferred to photo bomb rather than stand next to his Mom. Oh well. I love these people just as they are. And I expect them to do the same with me.
I was going to write that I love these little people, but dangit, they’re more medium now than little. And in a blink they’re going to be big people ready to step out on their own. Ah! I can’t handle the speed of this mothering gig!
So, for all you Moms and daughters out there, I have a poem for you. I have read it and listened to it and read it and listened to it again. I love it so much. It’s called “B” by Sarah Kay.
Kay is a slam poet. She reminds me of how poetry ought to be. Recited aloud. And when you hear her, her words take on musicality, rhythm, and life. This poem is why that rainy visit to my mother’s grave was so meaningful for me. I am posting the words for you here. Followed by the video. Treat yourself to both.
And remember, YOU are THAT mother. Point B. The one your children will always find their way to. No matter where you are. Happy Mother’s Day.
If I should have a daughter, instead of mom, she’s going to call me Point B, because that way she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me.
And I am going to paint the Solar Systems on the backs of her hands, so she has to learn the entire universe before she can say ‘Oh, I know that like the back of my hand’
And she’s going to learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face, wait for you to get back up, just so it can kick you in the stomach, but getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.
There is hurt, fear that cannot be fixed by band aids or poetry, so the first time she realizes that Wonder Woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she does not have to wear the cape all by herself. Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal.
Believe me, I’ve tried.
And baby, I’ll tell her, don’t keep your nose up in the air like that. I know that trick, I’ve done it a million times. You’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail, back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire, to see if you can save him.
Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place, to see if you can change him.
But I know she will anyway, so instead, I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rainboots nearby. Because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Ok, there’s a few heartbreaks that chocolate can’t fix, but that’s what the rainboots are for because rain will wash away everything if you let it.
I want her to look at the world through the underside of a glass bottomed boat. To look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind. Because that’s the way my mom taught me.
That there’ll be days like this, that there’ll be days like this my mama said.
When you open your hands to catch, and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly, and the very people you want to save are the ones standing on your cape.
When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment, and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say thank you,
because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it is sent away.
You will put the win in winsome … lose some. You will put the star in starting over and over. And no matter how many landmines erupt in a minute, be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.
And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting, I am pretty damn naive.
But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily. But don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.
Baby, I’ll tell her, remember your mama is a worrier, and your papa is a warrior. And you’re the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.
Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and always apologize when you’ve done something wrong, but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.
Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing.
And when they finally hand you a heartache, when they slip war and hatred under your door and offer you handouts on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.