Now is the Spring of My Discontent

How does a pregnant woman who has just lost her mother celebrate Mother’s Day?

Denial. Denial, denial, denial.

It’s worth noting that we were never a “Mother’s Day” family. Breakfast in bed, flowers from the back yard, and a homemade card. That would be it. Of course, this was how most holidays were celebrated– everything was pretty low key. It’s almost like we were Jehovah’s Witnesses…

I have been dreading Mother’s Day. Not in my usual “Damn Commercialization!” sort of way. In a new, exciting “I hate all people who have mothers” sort of way. This sounds crazy, I know. But in the same way that you secretly hate all pregnant women (or used to) I now secretly hate all people who have living, breathing mothers. Lucky me, there is a whole holiday dedicated to celebrating this relationship which I sorely miss! De-light-ful!

So I decided to pretend like none of this was happening.

In a weird and unfortunate scheduling snafu, Mr. O planned a vacation with his cousins for this week, meaning I would be by myself on Mother’s Day. He freaked, offered to change the tickets, but honestly, I didn’t care. I miss my mother every single day, and I didn’t see how this one would be any different. I’ll just cry a little more than usual, and that is no reason to incur change fees.

Still, it did seem like nice excuse to do whatever I wanted, so I mapped out what my day would look like. It started with a long walk in the arboretum near my house.

I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside.

I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside.

The arboretum has been my sanctuary in many ways. When I’ve lost jobs, suffered personal defeats, or just needed to clear my head, it has been the first place I go.  I’ve been running there almost every day for the past two years, and I’ve seen it change in all seasons. It’s kind of like an old, trusted friend. I can lose myself in this space, and it always seems to reflect where I’m at.

The winter where I live was brutal this year. I actually welcomed it because it gave me a perfect excuse for not wanting to leave the house. After my mom died, I would go for runs in the arboretum. It was freezing cold, the trees were leaf-less, and everything seemed gray and barren. Striped down. And exactly how I felt. It was a place where it was okay for me to cry and run and lose my breath– and keep moving because if I didn’t I would literally not be able to feel my face. Even as March approached, it looked like winter here wouldn’t end, and this didn’t strike me as a problem. Rather, it felt fitting.

Why do trees have to be such assholes?

Why do trees have to be such assholes?

But here’s the thing about seasons… they are temporary. I may have wanted winter to last forever, but Spring is always just around the corner. On this particular Sunday, Spring wasn’t just around the corner– it was in full effect, and RELENTLESS. Birds frolicked from branch to branch, and bush to bush. Flowers were everywhere. Trees which up until a few weeks ago reflected my emptiness were now full of adorable little green leaves bursting from their ends.

I have never wanted to start a forest fire more.

Instead, I cried on a park bench. I have become, by the way, an expert at public crying. The key is to not give a shit what anyone thinks about you. Should someone give you funny looks, fling the mucous which you are producing in abundance in their general direction.

After I collected myself, I headed back home for a spot of breakfast then to my prenatal yoga class. It seemed like a way I could “celebrate” Mother’s Day without actually doing any celebrating. Hell, I would have gone anyway– it just so happens that my class is on Sundays.

This week, Randi decided to do something a little different. Instead of our usual meditation on intentions for the practice, blah, blah, blah, we meditated on motherhood. This shouldn’t have surprised me– I was in a prenatal yoga class on MOTHER’S DAY after all– and yet my first thought was “Motherfucker, do we have to do this right now?!”

Part of the meditation was to think about the emotional connection that mothers have with their babies while carrying them. Just like they get nutrition from our bodies to grow, they also feed on our emotions and our state of mind.

“Well, my child is screwed because I’ve been an emotional train wreck since January.”

What am I teaching this kid? Am I teaching them to be sad all the time? That seems like a depressing legacy (literally and figuratively.) Just as I was about to burst into tears at the idea that I’m harming Chick by crying all the damn time, I caught myself. Rather than teaching Chick that life is painful and terrible and morose, perhaps I’m showing them how to love deeply and completely. While this can be painful and terrible and morose, it can also be such a gift.

The truth is that I’m not ready for Spring. I’m still hurt and sad and angry, and I’m not ready to give that up. Yet there is something comforting in knowing that eventually seasons change.

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13 comments

  1. My Perfect Breakdown · May 11, 2015

    Oh Mrs. O, I thought of you yesterday as i knew it would be your first mother’s day without your mother. I so appreciate the “I now secretly hate all people who have living, breathing mothers” attitude. I have hated mother’s day for the 18 years. I have had the secrete and not so secrete jealously and haltered for those who have living, breathing mothers. I have also had the dream to be able to enjoy the simple normal things with my mom – like a hug, chatting or a cup of tea or just being able to pick up the phone and say hi. And, really, looking back I think I just hated mother’s day for the reminder of what I do not have and never will again because death is just so final and irreversible. So, while, RPL/infertility probably complicated my emotions with mother’s day, really, I was already bitter and jaded so it didn’t really change much.
    Also, I think showing your little Chick how to love deeply and completely might just be one of the greatest gifts you can give. Love to you my friend. I hope next year you are able to cope with the mixed emotions of not having your mother and at the same time actively mothering your little Chick – I’m sure it will be complex and emotional in a new way.

    • thecommonostrich · May 19, 2015

      It was a harder day than I thought it would be. (See previous note about denial.) There aren’t a lot of people who understand how complicated it is to grapple with defining motherhood when your mother isn’t there anymore. Sadly, you get this. And as strange as it sounds, I appreciate that you get it. Of course, I wish it weren’t the case for either of us, but thank you nonetheless.

  2. Nara · May 11, 2015

    “Why do trees have to be such assholes?” – quote of the day!

    So sorry for your loss. You articulate it so well. I used to be a cross country runner (the loneliness of the mid distance runner) until I upped sticks and moved to a city and got lazy. I can really relate to that running through your moods thing. Sometimes I used to angry run and sometimes sad run. And occasionally happy. Your post reminds me of that.

    I can also relate to hating people who have what you don’t have! It must be so tough for you on Mother’s Day. I hope that next year you’re able to, alongside missing your mum, be able to spend your first Mother’s Day enjoying being mum to your little one.

    • thecommonostrich · May 19, 2015

      Oh, I love “running it out” when I’m in a bad mood. It takes me out of my head for a little bit and helps me see more clearly. Pregnancy puts a damper on the running, hence why I revert to weeping on park benches. Note: it is not as satisfying.

      I remember irrationally hating pregnant women when I was undergoing treatment. It sounds like complete nonsense, but it’s so true. Most of my waking moments, I can ignore it. But on mother’s day? Not so much.

      • Nara · May 19, 2015

        I can relate! I used to go on long cross country runs. Fat and laziness put paid to that! 😉 Well, that and the fact that I work all the time.
        I’m undergoing treatment right now and I still feel weirdly about pregnant women. I don’t “hate” them as such… but I do *massively resent* friends who get pregnant really easily (honeymoon, when they felt like it, whilst drunk, as soon as they came off birth control, etc). I don’t really show them that I resent them, but I do.

  3. bionicbrooklynite · May 12, 2015

    I wish you would come to reunion (or my apartment), because wow, yes. I have a lot to say on all of these things and would also like to listen to you more.

    I read the most horrifying things about what happens to TINY INNOCENT (pre) BAYBEEES who have terrible grieving mothers like me. What good was that supposed to have done? Given the choice, I definitely would not have had my mother die, but turns out I didn’t have a choice. But. Tiny baby Jackalope is and has been since birth the sunniest creature, quite a bit more cheerful than any other member of the family, and if anything more emotionally close to me than her older brother. Despite all the weeping and wailing and so on. I have every faith Chick will be just fine, too.

    • thecommonostrich · May 19, 2015

      EXACTLY. I started to google that, freaked out, cried, then realized there was fuck all I could do about it. This happened. It is happening. It’s like a big, depressing roller coaster I’m locked into– I can’t really jump out until my grief has run its course. Luckily (?) I was seeing a counselor before all this went down, so I’ve had someone to weep at in a professional context.

  4. lucy50 · May 12, 2015

    Your blog is awesome because you are honest. Thank you for that.

    • thecommonostrich · May 19, 2015

      It’s been so helpful to have a space where I can honest. And even more helpful that people read it without judgement– for that, I thank you.

  5. Chris · May 14, 2015

    Welcome to the club. Although I’m not pregnant…but I was another one of those people hiding from the world on Mother’s day because….it’s too hard having the entire world tell you “call your mother” and not being able to. Mother’s day was never a big holiday in our house either. My mom hated celebrating on the day because everything was crowded. We’d often go out another day the week of, and it was seldom a big deal, but my mother was my best friend. She and I were often all either of us had. And not having that, especially on a day devoted to mothers, is just stinky, and I am so sorry

    • thecommonostrich · May 19, 2015

      Talk about clubs where you don’t want to be a member… I had someone tell me that once my kid was born, I would immediately call my mother and apologize for all the dumb things I did when I was a kid. (#awkward) I wanted to say “Oh, I can’t. Because she is dead.” But that’s just not appropriate. I get that.

      I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that this doesn’t really ever go away. This will always suck. Maybe over time, it will sting less but I will always be sad about this to a certain degree.

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