Mothers Day was yesterday.
Is it Mothers Day, as in the day we celebrate mothers, or Mother’s Day, as in the day we celebrate Mom? I don’t know. I don’t suppose it matters.
This is a holiday that I am truly ambivalent about.
In 1984, my mother died of cancer. Part of the issue was that she wouldn’t go to the doctor so the disease was pretty advanced by the time anyone picked up on it. Part of the problem was, well, it was 35 years ago, cancer treatment just wasn’t as advanced as it is today. She was given the option of treatment that would extend life but make her sick, or no treatment with a life expectancy of about 8 months. She chose to forego medical treatment.
Now let’s be clear. She turned down radiation and chemo. She said, “If medical science is done with me, then I am done with them.” But she did pursue holistic alternatives. Only, again, it was 1984. No internet. No community of people to help with advice. And “holistic” was a concept without a name.
I remember her insisting on organic produce, and soaking it in the sink to remove toxins. One time, after she had moved back to my grandparents’ house, she accused of us trying to poison her by not soaking the vegetables. They came from Grandpa’s garden, which was de facto organic because that was the way he learned to farm when he was a kid.
So I am without a mother, and by this age, I am without grandmothers. Nobody for me to spoil on this day. For many years, Mothers Day was simply a reminder of what I don’t have. I chose to ignore the holiday.
Only, I am a mother myself.
I have been terrible with holidays because I missed my family of origin, but that means my daughter has never really experienced a good holiday. I was perhaps too caught in my own grief and did not provide the right environment for her in terms of celebrating special days.
This year, I spent most of Mothers Day afternoon with my daughter. I went to her place. We drank rumchata (horchata with rum in it) and made art. I made an abstract of her friend, she tried out a texture technique that she didn’t like and painted over. Several of her friends visited. I laughed, and said it’s because I’m the cool mom, but really I know it’s because my kid is cool. People want to be around her.
So I am learning to make days special in non-traditional ways. What’s important is to spend time together, not to go to brunch or get flowers. I feel good about making art with a friend, and my daughter is becoming a friend. I miss my mom, but I will see her again soon enough. And I want her to see how far I’ve come, when we finally get to catch up.