I dread this time of year. Sure, the weather warms, the sepia tones burst into candy coated Technicolor almost overnight, and the sun’s rays creep into your bones replenishing your depleted stores of Vitamin D. You feel good. You feel recharged. But, then the metaphorical bomb drops.
The blanched canvas tent popped-up with little fanfare earlier this week. Sometime in the dark of night this unassuming teepee erected itself in the middle of a wide open sea of black asphalt at our local supermarket. Its appearance, while predictable and perennial, always catches me slightly off-guard with its premature teasing that yet another holiday event is fast approaching. The flap of the entrance flutters in the morning breeze just long enough for this passersby to peek into the bowels of the big-top…its entrails fragrant and floral and adorned with lace, paisley and pastels. The thought bubble above my head illuminates with an incandescent heart shaped light bulb flashing the realization: Mother’s Day is nigh.
I flinch as I try and dodge the barrage of anxieties and the onslaught of panic that suddenly swarms and overwhelms me. As I stand there, slack-jawed, motionless, and momentarily paralyzed, I have an opportunity to recompose and digest the information that I had just unwittingly stumbled across. I have one week to prepare.
I suppose one might wonder why such an incredibly warranted and justified holiday could instantly inundate me with such acute dread and consternation. And I openly admit that little sense can be gleaned from harboring this fear of festivities–especially when the focal subject of all of this laud and celebration more than deserves a day dedicated to their sheer existence. My issues should not distract from the ardor and zeal I feel in regards to the second Sunday in May, but they do. However, the source of my uneasiness stems primarily from the sheer belief that no action on my part could ever be enough to accurately convey my love for my Mom.
I sit here and stare blankly at my smudged computer screen as I contemplate what to write and where to start. I am completely submerged in my thoughts as memories and moments begin to pour in and flood my consciousness with warmth. But, that’s all I’ve got. Once again, she provides me with contentment while I struggle to compose even a single line of an essay meant to commemorate her..
I distract myself by clicking on facebook. My social media feed bloats with posts and boasts of motherhood supremacy. Proclamations and declarations of their mom’s superiority are made unabashedly and with great pride and definitiveness. Their words drip with the requisite schmaltz and cloying sentimentality found printed on a dime store greeting card. No touch of deftness, no nuance, no subtlety… nothing but simplistic stock expressions of love and admiration for the women, who created, carried, cradled and cared for them throughout their life. And I am no different. We all seem to revert back to our most infantile state of mind when pressed to find a way to let our mother’s know how important they truly are to us.
My mind drifts to wanderland and I surmise that flowers seem futile. Their fragility not at all consistent with the toughness and tenacity I equate with my mom. And no bargain bouquet can ever recreate the time I was pulled around in a rickety red wagon at the local nursery– included in the annual gardening excursion for the first time. I performed my assigned tasks dutifully, carefully selecting the bloom most beckoning, picking up pots and planters, and finally plunging my tiny hands wrist deep into the damp Texas dirt… planting the seeds to a cherished memory.
Brunches and breakfasts-in-bed prove misguided, trite and too full of carbs and crumbs to provide any lasting substance. All attempts appreciated and enjoyed, but none comparing to the tens of thousands of meals she provided me throughout the years– never coming close to the times we quietly sipped hot chocolate together on those frigid December nights leading up to Christmas morning. Flannel pajamas, books brimming with stories of reindeer, elves, and holiday cheers, all tied up nicely with ribbons and bows and stored within my soul. The taste of Hershey’s cocoa mix and warm milk linger long after the copper bottomed pans and festive mugs are washed and put away. No plate I could ever present to you could rival that which you have lovingly prepared for me—grilled cheese sandwiches cut tenderly into tea-time triangles, spaghetti scraped of all traces of toxic red tomato sauce, grits stirred and seasoned to perfection—devoid of clumps, all served on dishes, in bowls and with silverware that evoke waves of nostalgia within me.
Soaps and scents in delicate bottles, with elegant names, and exorbitant price tags might impress with their promise of opulence and luxury. However, no amalgam of manufactured chemicals can replicate the smell of your Mom. No matter how much time passes I can always immediately conjure up the fragrance of her perfume. In the past it served as a beacon of hope in the midst of crowds, chaos and confusion– providing me with a trail of recognition–and leading me back into her warm embrace. And on one sobering occasion it offered me enough comfort to make it through a particularly bleak epoch of loneliness. I felt as though I had lost everything. I buried my head into a freshly laundered blanket on the bed inhaling the scent of home and remembered all of those fighting for me.
I’ve watched pre-dawn give way to a heavy mid-afternoon and now to early evening with nothing to point to and show my mom. How will she know I love her? What will she put up on the refrigerator? Once again my striving for perfection left me coming up empty handed. Perhaps a scribbled sketch of the two of us with a handwritten “I Love You” would have sufficed after all.
Now it’s getting ridiculous…. I just have to put something on paper. Here goes…
I’ve spent the better part of the day attempting to carve out some semblance of a letter to you that demonstrated the depths to which my love for you goes. However, after hours of time spent staring at the computer screen–I realized that it was never going to happen… that nothing I wrote would ever truly capture what I feel inside. I’ve stopped and started so many times that I lost count. Type. Space. Delete. Repeat. The print on the keys has practically worn off and I’m sure glad we’ve moved past the typewriter age. I have gone on walk after walk with the dog searching the trees for inspiration and finding nothing but squirrels and birds. I put headphones on. I took headphones off. I went outside. I went inside. I showered. I changed clothes. I stared at the computer some more. I used the laptop. I used a pen. I used Word. I used Notepad. But, nothing worked. This did not stem from a lack of content on which to cull from…quite the opposite… too much to say and no ability or skill with which to do it. So, I almost said nothing at all. However, I will sloppily provide you with this:
I cannot put into words the depths to which I love you. I tried and subsequently failed to accomplish this today. Our relationship has grown and developed this past year into one that continues to astound and bewilder. You are no longer just a mother, but my best friend, my therapist, my sidekick, my confidante, my driver, my banker, my interior designer, my everything. My reliance on you must tax and burden in ways that I cannot understand and it destroys me knowing that my life absolutely did not unfold as it should have. I apologize for this and will continue to do my best to make it up to you. How? I remain unsure other than to promise you that I will keep working on becoming my best self.
I hope that when you look at me you do not label yourself as a failure; that you accept that my shortcomings do not reflect any mistake made on your part. From my perspective you never faltered nor let me down in any way. No blame rests on your shoulders. I cannot stress enough the sincerity of my sentiments on that issue. I equally hope that you take notice of all of your hard work and how it has helped me grow stronger and more capable with each passing day. It may seem as though I am suspended in a pervasive state of stagnation…. marching in place without making any forward motion towards improvement. But, rest assured that I have and I am.
Perhaps without noticing it, you have pulled out the best parts of me and aided in unlocking areas of my personality that have laid dormant for many years–too far out of reach for me to have reached on my own. Sure, they need dusting off and fine-tuning, but you have instilled in me the confidence to test them out. By gently nudging me out of my safety zone and allowing me leeway and freedom to extricate myself from any concrete plans and ironclad obligations — you have allowed me to stretch my weak and atrophied wings. Though currently incapable of sending me soaring through every obstacle unscathed–they have made it possible to move closer to that goal. This has proven intrinsic to my recent successes. I grasp how insignificant and minor these accomplishments could appear to someone unfamiliar with my situation, but I promise that each one serves as a new learning and important learning experience.
My participation in these little adventures with you have given me something that I did not realize that I had the ability to possess any longer–and that is hope. You injected me a desire to wake up and move forward… one foot and then another…on days when the world seems far too intimidating and indomitable Through you I have become more optimistic that something worth pursuing exists beyond the walls of my apartment and that despite everything I still have a future to look forward to. I know that you understand the significance of these outings in relation to building up my confidence and equally grasp the immense internal struggles associated with my partaking in them. Throughout it all, you have shown nothing but kindness, patience and compassion towards me throughout the years and most specifically during the past couple of months. Rather than give up, you have pressed on, and that steely resolve you possess has somewhat rubbed off on me. I am learning how to enhance my character, outwardly present myself, and act in a responsible mature manner by emulating you. You are an exceptional role model to have and I am beyond fortunate to have you as a guide during this rough chapter of my life.
I am greedily pocketing each of our experiences and storing them away to serve as a source of strength when I fall to my weakest. I can flip through my card catalog of memories and pull any one of them out and instantly recall what I am fighting for. I covet every treasured moment from the mundane of running to the store, sitting on the balcony, going to appointments to the grander treks through the mountains and to the coasts…. all of equal importance in my process of developing and recovery.
I am a stronger person because of you. I am more complete. I am more open. I am more giving. This might seem impossible to recognize when I appear so internally weak and battered. But, I urge you to trust that I speak the truth. My increasing reliance on trust and hope have emerged and burgeoned because of your unwillingness to relent. It paid off. I now see a glimmer of light in every dark space I stumble into. I no longer immediately accept defeat as my only available option. And though the overwhelming outlook might still maintain its unmistakable blackness—I can now focus on the bright spot most of the time–enough to allow my trust in you to win the battle. I believe you when you say that going out will improve my mood and I am happy to attest to the success of this method.
I also hope that you know that each and every gesture of kindness and extension of support, both tacit and vocalized, did not fall upon deaf ears or blind eyes. I noticed. I always notice. I have never felt entirely deserving of the level of devotion you have maintained and exhibited towards me. But, those actions forced me accept that you cared and loved me even when I wanted so badly to believe no one did or could. You truly have earned your superhero’s cape, Mom.
I have many regrets and a long (very long) list of things to apologize for. But, today I just want to iterate that nobody can compare to you. I meant to say this yesterday, but your own mother would be so proud of you and what a positive influence and guiding force you provide in my life. I do not know whom to thank for granting me the past twenty-nine years of having you as my greatest ally. But, I must have done something right in a past life to earn the right to call you my mom. Thank you for all that you have done for me. And thank you for all you will inevitably continue to do in the future. You have given me everything and I love you to the moon and back.