Missing Mother’s Day

I will not see Mom tomorrow, on Mother’s Day. I will be driving back home from a vacation on a North Carolina island. Patrick and I have come here every year since 2008, and our intent is to keep up that annual pace, and perhaps even get down here again in late summer or early fall. It is my favorite place on Earth, and it calms me to the core to be here.

I missed Mother’s Day a few times when Mom was in assisted living, and she didn’t really notice. I have attended the parties at the nursing home the past two years, though, and had snacks with Mom – and also with Mr. R at least one time. Last year, I got a little corsage to wear even though I am not a mother. Mom is less aware than ever, so I know she won’t have any idea that I am not accompanying her on this party day at the nursing home. I will be aware, though. Just as I have been aware every Mother’s Day for the past several years, I will know that I still have a mom, but she is unable to be a mother to me anymore.

I dreamed about Mom this week. It is the new way that my anxiety manifests itself: I dream that Mom is more with it than she actually is, and she is living in the house in which I grew up in Columbus. I have trouble handling her, and my goal is to convince her to move back to the nursing home. I wake up confused and in a bad mood, thinking for just a few seconds that I have this huge task hanging over me to get Mom back to that blasted nursing home. Even though I quickly realize that the reality is that Mom is safe in the nursing home, this dream can affect my mood. I was very tired on this particular morning after having this dream, and I was grumpy. Not a good state of mind for vacation. It eventually went away.

It has also become a habit for me to cry on the last full day that we spend on Bald Head Island each year. I took a brisk walk this morning, and after saying goodbye to the turtles at my favorite spot on the island, the tears welled up. I wept while trying to keep up my walking pace, and cleaned my dripping nose on my shirt. The great thing about this place is that there is nobody around to notice such things. I haven’t determined yet whether this is sadness about leaving or preparation for re-entry to my life – a life that is mighty fine, by the way. Perhaps it’s a little of both. I’m sort of amused by the crying, to be honest.

To be clear, I am not crying about Mother’s Day. In the past, the marketing associated with the holiday pissed me off or made me sad. I am used to it now, as are others with mothers who are ill or dead. It’s just something to endure. Presumably if I were a mother I’d have a whole different outlook on this weekend in May. But I have no regrets about remaining childless (by choice). It has worked out well for me to not have kids since I have had a mom to take care of for so many years.

8 comments so far

  1. Megan on

    Your trip sounds beautiful, Emily. Glad for your that you got that solace again and are feeling good about life overall.

    IMO, you are more or less a mother, as am I, in your caregiving role, even though I never had children either, and even if the time is limited. Heck, my mother calls me “mom” half the time these days.

    Take care and enjoy your Sunday.

  2. Gemma on

    i’m not exactly sad about my first mothers day since my mom died. we never made a big deal but i always sent the prettiest card i could find. Now i realize the low-key approach may have resulted from being angry with her over things ancient and recent. but it was the only strategy that i could handle. Maybe i’ll tear up tomorrow but, honestly, i doubt it.

    glad you enjoyed your time at the beach!

  3. jennifer jayhawk on

    Hi Emily,

    I have never been to Bald Head Island. We usually drive to the beaches of SC since it takes half the driving time. It sounds wonderful we might have to make the extra drive.

    Your sentence about your Mother is no longer a Mother to you describes this time in our lives perfectly.

    Even though I have two sons I still feel like a Mom to my four legged buddies!

  4. patwhite67 on

    I know what you mean about the sadness in such a beautiful place. Somehow I think mine is in accepting things as they are and not wishing for what is no longer.

  5. momsbrain on

    Megan, I think you’re right, that we are mothers in a sense. I definitely get the feeling sometimes that I am experiencing a hint of parental angst.

    Gemma, I just hope you felt good enough to enjoy Mother’s Day! Your outlook is interesting – I’m glad you weren’t feeling sad, of course. Relationships are complicated…

    Jennifer, I thought of you since I was in your state, but I can see that Charlotte is not an easy drive to this part of the NC coast. I do recommend Bald Head Island if you’re up for the drive. It is just a wonderful place. I hope you’ve had a good Mother’s Day.

    Pat, I imagine this is a bittersweet day for you. I definitely share that tendency to want to revisit the past.

  6. Jeff on

    Em – I have a similar response when I’m leaving just about anything, place or project. There’s that unknown finality about leaving something. And then, there is something new to replace it soon.

  7. foodhoe on

    Hello, haven’t been by in a while. I missed mother’s day too walking along boardwalks in Pacific Grove, CA. Bald Head Island sounds wonderful, especially to see turtles on the beach! Glad you were able to make time for yourself.

  8. momsbrain on

    Jeff, my response is inconsistent. Especially since I know I will return to Bald Head Island, I’m surprised that I have this weepiness on the last day. But it doesn’t really bother me – it just is what it is. I sometimes feel weepy about saying goodbye to people, too.

    Hi, foodhoe! I hope your family is doing OK… Hope the time on the boardwalks was restorative for you. Thanks for visiting!

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