I've decided that Mother's Day is weird for me.
For the last five years, it's a day of odd relief. Not that I don't miss my Mom, I do. Sometimes more than I can stand. But I always hated Mother's Day. She lived in terror of being abandoned, and she'd start pressing about what I was going to do before any significant day like birthdays or Mother's Day until her expectation could never be fulfilled. Nothing I did would be enough, except perhaps the year I was 12 and announced that I was cooking dinner. Cornish game hens, and I did a good job. She was surprised then. The bar of expectation was set higher every year after that. The pressure became awful.
On the first Mother's Day without her, three months after her last birthday, I had no obligation. (I totally blew it on the present for that birthday, by the way, a breathlessly soft teal green infinity scarf that at the time of her disappointment I offered to take off her hands. I wear it every winter and tell myself it was hers.) No crisis. No judgment. I missed her. But I was appallingly relieved.
My son is singularly inattentive to holidays; I have wistfully learned to expect nothing from him regarding special dates. I swore that I'd never do what Mom did, and perhaps I went too far the other way and didn't impress him that these things do have meaning to people. Er, mothers.
But he wasn't the first thing I thought of this morning when I woke up and tried not to cry. In the absence of a son to distract me with a fuss, I couldn't keep my mind off the others. The anger has faded some. I've carried around a rage that those babies were taken from me — from us — in spite of anything we did. Against my wishes. How was that allowed? What kind of sick joke was it to offer us these gifts and yank them away in some perverse game of keep-away? Why was it necessary to hammer away at this message that I'm not a good enough person to deserve another baby? Four times. But it's been 14 years since the last loss and that's a long time to invest that much energy.
What overtook me today was a slew of other questions. 14 years. Our last teenager, looking like whom? How tall? Laconic and contained like her big brother? Goofy and gifted like his bigger half-brother? Another source of endless worry because of the cards dealt her like those dealt the Boy, fearing that she'll never get a chance? Sweet-natured and kind like the boys? Judgmental and narcissistic like their sister? Would someone be making me Mother's Day breakfast in bed? Would the one (or two) in college be home for the weekend? Would I be able to hug at least one of my children?
What would I give to be able to hug any of the little ones? What would I give to know their faces? To know who they really were supposed to be?
I'm past the point of going to the Church to feed my grief. There's a memorial wall for lost children there, and it contains a plaque for ours. I've been known to go there on Mother's Day and embarrass everyone by crying. But I'm not past torturing myself with questions like this.
Fortunately, the Boy deflected a lot of it by calling. He was pretty proud of himself. "I set a reminder on my phone so I'd call as soon as I got up this morning," he said. "I set it on Wednesday." Maybe he is growing up. He's not here for me to hug, but he was there for me to talk to, and I'll get to hug him soon. I cling to that. I prefer smarmy tears of gratitude for what I have to tears of rage or loss, so I'm going to focus on that. That part of Mother's Day is pretty good. The rest of it is weird.