This has always been a tough week for me. My mother’s birthday and Mother’s Day AND Nurses Day/Week all fall in one big clump. Even when she was alive, it was a minefield. There are no cards that say “Thanks for trying to be a good mom… I love you anyway.”
My mother struggled with mental illness her whole life. She was smart, sarcastic and a very talented nurse, so she was also good at masking her issues, until she couldn’t. She wasn’t all bad by any means, but her need to deny her challenges existed only made it harder on everyone. And the first part of May demands that I reflect and remember, whether I want to or not, whether it is convenient or not.
Here’s what I do know, and can celebrate:
- My mother had a servant’s heart. She was a scout leader at least two different times in her life, she and my father ran the church youth group, she served on the altar guild at multiple churches, and she was her best self as a nurse. I am grateful for her example of servant leadership.
- My mother was playful. My fondest memories are of playing in a creek, making snow angels, snowball fights, playing with puppies…
- My mother was a voracious reader and made sure I learned to read early and often.
- My mother was a gifted story-teller. When it was a personalized, crafted on the fly bedtime story, that was a good, loving thing.
- My mother loved animals, and helped me remain a dog lover, despite several unfortunate encounters in my early childhood.
- My mother was smart. Above-average intelligence was baseline, and I am still learning how far ahead of the curve she and so many people around me were.
- My mother loved music, and cultivated the same in me. From Ella Fitzgerald to John Denver, she made sure I understood good music came in many forms.
- My mother liked crafts. I remember macrame and latch hook, but she also taught me just about every type of embroidery there is. She didn’t knit, but she learned to crochet late in life. She wasn’t a great seamstress, but she was better with a sewing machine than I am.
We didn’t have a conventional relationship, but I do have fond memories. As time passes, I find myself remembering more of the good and less of the rest.
I wish those of you celebrating a Happy Mother’s Day, and for the rest of us, I hope for a pleasant day without drama.