Mother’s Day

Write something for Mother’s Day. Write something for Mother’s Day. Write something for Mother’s Day.

The idea, the plan, had been resting rather uncomfortably in my mind for weeks. It sat between grief and trauma, chaos and peace. Yet now here it is, Mother’s Day weekend, and I have nothing to say; no words of inspiration or praise for my mother, my rock, and my friend. No beautiful prose or piece of poetry to share. The words are tied up in a box in my brain. They’ve got nothing on Houdini and I can’t help them escape. Why? Why? Why? I ask, trying to sort through the trauma of 2020 and point the finger at the culprit. Why are the words locked up? I feel them. I hear them. Yet the stories won’t stream through my fingers and onto the screen. I fear my writing has reached an unsuccessful peak.

There’s an old photograph on my refrigerator. My mom in an oversized pink sweater squats beside me and my long blonde hair on the edge of a creek. Write about that, I thought. Write about how it’s held in place by magnets that spell out “always here,” how Mom placed it there after my suicide attempt, how she flew across the country with it to be with me, to take care of me and hold me in my bed while I wept. Write about that.

And so I tried. I tried and I tried and I tried. But nothing of satisfaction came about. Through all of my rambles all I could find was this: I haven’t exactly paid my mom the respect she deserves for bringing me into this world.

I sat with that sentence. And then I took a break. I did my daily Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I meditated. I listened to Patti Smith. I smoked some CBD, did the dishes, and made lunch. And now here I am again, wanting to write something of praise for my mom. She deserves the highest of it, that much I can say, as does my angel of a grandma, Jeanette, and my grandmas who no longer live.

But I go back to that sentence I wrote earlier. I haven’t exactly paid my mom the respect she deserves for bringing me into this world. I wonder how we do that. How do we express our profound gratitude for the ones who made us, raised us, showed us how to be human? How do we thank the ones who taught us right from wrong, yet still love us unconditionally when we falter, when we do wrong anyway?

Did I answer my own question after I wrote it? Instead of beating myself up, I cut myself some slack. Instead of falling into despair and giving up, I took care of myself. I made sure I was okay. I told myself I was. And then I returned to my words. I came back to try again.

I am wildly fortunate, and Mother’s Day is a reminder of what I have always known. I was raised by a strong, independent woman, and doted over by four extraordinary grandmas and great-grandmas. Not to mention my many wonderful aunts.

For as much as I love words, though, I know they don’t always say everything. But how we live, how we treat ourselves, perhaps that says something, perhaps that’s one way to honor the ones who gave us life.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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