Mother’s Day is coming.
When my girls were little, I felt a little awkward receiving hand-made cards and bouquets of dandelions (that I cherished). I felt a fraud on Mother’s Day because I seemed more a daughter than someone’s mother.
I wanted to trace around my own hand and draw images of my mother and me, or glue flowers on to construction paper. I wanted to brush my mother’s hair and run my brother’s Matchbox cars up and down her arms.
Things have changed. Geography and my mother’s health have chipped away at my “daughter” status. I think I am now more a mother than a daughter.
My empty nest magnifies my longing and my remembering. I’m listening for the giggles outside my bedroom door with offerings of toast and runny eggs. I want to dig in my box of treasures and retrieve the cards and letters that made me feel all was right with the world.
I want to hear my girls jumping on the bed or building forts with the sofa cushions. I want to hear them loving each other. I want to hear their questions that sometimes made me squirm or their dreams that made me cry.
I want to remember when they could call crawl on to my knee and share the tiniest secret. I want to hear the sound of their feet pounding through the house to be the first to sit beside me at the piano when I played.
I never wanted life to change, I wanted it all to stay precisely as it was, but which moment would I freeze-frame?
Mother’s Day, like most special days, is about remembering. If remembering was an Olympic event, I would be a gold-medallist. I fear I spend too much time looking back, but I do so love the view.
And in my remembering are all those moments when I bumped up against being loved and nurtured. I think we all collect those memories when someone opened their arms and their hearts to let us in; when we were “mothered.”
Auntie Evy taught me to drink tea without milk and sugar. She taught me not to get weary, but to live in the moment and not let dish-washing ever get ahead of having fun and popcorn always makes Fridays a celebration.
She played the piano for me when I sang at the festival. She bought me a red dress with white polka dots when I won the Elfie Forsberg Trophy when I was 10, and she had the most wonderful laugh that helped her through the things that hurt.
Aunt Helen demonstrated her fierce independence and skill with everything from apples to walleyes and all things in between. I loved the quiet of her, the calm and the resting place and her gentle acceptance as she pulled me under her wing.
Aunt Sandra and her creativity, from gourmet cooking to water-colour painting. The world’s pain became her pain, and how she loved her boys was right there on her skin and in the air and I wanted to breathe it in.
And then Annie. Annie who simply loved me, for no reason in particular other than her loving heart. I ran across the field to her kitchen and her arms, and I was perfect in her eyes (or at least she made me feel perfect).
She let me gather eggs and when I dropped them, she never fussed. She showed me where the mother cat had hidden her kittens and she pressed her finger to her lips so I knew it was a special secret.
She made me doughnuts and poured thick milk from my favourite white ceramic pitcher. She laughed and threw her arms around me as though she couldn’t help herself; as though loving me was something she could not contain.
She was my example of motherhood in its purest form.
So on Mother’s Day, I celebrate remembering—remembering the many women who lived their role as “mother” in the finest way possible—and I press my hand to my chest in grateful appreciation.
Mother’s Day is coming.