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Ah, Mother’s Day

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On Mother’s Day I think I can check off feeling every emotion in the book. I wake up thinking: Yay, it’s Mother’s Day! I get to relax in bed and wait for the world to finally appreciate what a wonderful job of mothering I have done throughout the year. OK, that was a quick, fleeting, unrealistic thought. Then I wonder how my mom felt on Mother’s Day. Then I realize: Wait, my mom is gone. She’s missed so much of my life. I am sad.

I was a teenager deep in the throes of rebellion when she passed. I was angry with her for leaving. How dare she not be here to witness my incredibly important rites of passage in life? I knew better than she did about just about everything. I was a better clothes stylist, hair doer, money appropriator, and future planner.

I am embarrassed and ashamed of my behavior as a teenager. I feel guilty about arguing about every issue that I didn’t agree with. She never let on about how frustrated I made her at times. I’m frustrated now that I can’t say I’m sorry and you were right on all accounts. You were especially right about being self-reliant, and the “wearing clean underwear in case of an accident” thing.

Sad she never saw me graduate college, become a teacher, get married, have a child, get divorced, get married again, gain two more children, and live happily ever after.

I’m envious of my friends who have mothers. They have built-in babysitters, meal makers, moneylenders, tear wipers, happiness sharers, opinion agree- or disagreers, and unconditional lovers. And huggers! I am frustrated I have no mom for a hug.

I feel in awe of my mom after realizing that she managed a job, a house, a husband and three kids with tenderness and love. I never quite got the hang of all that. I laugh remembering our goofy family nights when I was a kid. Having my mom throw ice cream in our faces because we refused to stop stirring it into soup. Dinnertime we were always laughing about something. Like how my sister and I thought we were so clever sneaking broccoli to my brother under the table because he wasn’t allowed to eat it until he was old enough. She was smart all right. She got that kid to eat broccoli every time she served it. I never would have thought of that. But, I certainly used it on my kid. She was brilliant.

My mom was part of the women’s consciousness-raising group in our local Temple when that became paramount in the early ’70s. She learned to fight for her rights as a woman. She was serious about equality, frustrated with the lack of opportunities for women at the time. I feel proud of my mom’s convictions and I happily realize that I got my “lack of filters” from her. I speak my mind usually to a fault.

My mother courageously fought but ultimately lost her battle with breast cancer.

I never knew how sick she was until the week or two before she died. She never let on. She didn’t want pity. She didn’t want us kids or the world to worry. She just wanted us to live life to its fullest whatever that path may be. I think of how adventurous I have become because of the courage and strength she has shown me. I have also learned to be frozen with fear at each doctor visit. Well, you can’t have everything, right?

So even though Mother’s Day is a bittersweet day for us kids without moms. I just think of the ice cream story and I feel better. Not all better. Just a little. Happy Mother’s Day.

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About Marti Renoud-DiPaola

I am a married New York City teacher with three grown kids who loves to travel, especially in Italy. I am in love with Florence, Italy and I go back every chance I get.