In the midst of spring’s great expectations, both a wild fire rages and a fridge breaks down. And I can tell you I’d choose a fridge breakdown over the flames any and every day.
It’s also Mother’s Day weekend, and I know that many women dread this day, along with its suitcase of hidden pains and unmet longings.
I hope my daughter calls, but she lives in a country that does not recognize this Hallmark Day. She is also a busy mother and I will try to call her; as I do want to acknowledge the fantastic job she is doing of raising my grandchildren. My surrogate (official definition: a substitute, especially a person deputizing for another in a specific role or office) daughter in Australia, has asked for my mailing address so she can send me something. I don’t need or want a gift I tell her, I would just like a conversation. What I would really like is the connection with the two that don’t call anymore, but like many other Moms, that catching up will have to wait for heaven. Over the years, I’ve heard many of the sadnesses women express over Mother’s Day: the sadness of remaining childless, the sadness of children buried, the sadness of rocky relationships with children. The pain is always greater for the mother separated from a child, than for the child. A little piece of the mother heart goes to each child; and when that daughter has her own children, she will understand the way a mamma’s heart gets divvied up.
This week I had a delightful mother/child encounter while biking the Rocky Mountain Legacy trail, from Canmore to Banff. About half-way, Parks Canada has set up two lovely red lawn chairs; I decided to stop on the return trip, to sit and take in the view. As I arrive to the red chairs, I see that a trio has also just stopped and it looks as though we might both be heading for the chairs. I take one, as a mother plops her little one in the other, and we both take photos. She offers to take my picture, I agree. She sets her drink down on the adjoining arm rest, I say “I’ll raise the cider. I’m sending this to my sister that joined me on this trail last year, she’ll like the drink addition.” After she takes my photo-I reciprocate the offer. The three moms scurry the young ones … scatter the kids amongst themselves, raise their drinks and I keep shooting. “Look this way, say cheese, do the cheer. How about one from the back, so we see the mountains?” After thanking me, they ask if I’d like the fourth cider. “They came in a pack of four so we do have an extra.”
“Yes, I say, that would be great.”
I discover they met in prenatal classes just over a year ago. Then the interesting birthing stories began. Two of them had C-sections. As a former nurse, I asked a few questions. “Were you disappointed to end up with a C-section?” Not really “Did you have a doula?” One had. “Is this your first mother’s day?” Yes.
To Danika, Jessica, Adrianna and all the other first time moms—Happy Mother’s Day to you!
For those with a first sad Mother’s Day—May you be encouraged. You gave the world something beautiful, and you yourself are a better person for that. To the mature mothers & grandmothers: Let’s encourage the young moms. The pressures put on moms can be overwhelming, stifling and self-diminishing. The blend of home, career and parenting is a daunting task, even more challenging than it was in our day.
Adrianna asked about my mothering experience. After briefly explaining my loss, they knew I meant when I said what I have held to be true for a long time: “Motherhood is a high calling. Spend as much time as you can, because you never know what the future holds.”
There is always something … and the forest fire rages in Northern Alberta, while my fridge has been fixed and has resumed its cooling.
Jocelyn is the author of Who is Talking Out of My Head- Grief as an Out of Body Experience