a tale of three mother's days | life coming full circle


three years ago. may 9th, 2010. a day remembered so vividly.

i can recall what i was wearing and how i had my hair piled on top of my head because i was running late that morning. i was working at an internship at a local magazine, my face glued to a computer screen while doing some fact-checking for one of my editors. the article was about spring bridal trends. (ironic, given that at the time, i was convinced that joe and i were never getting married.) around eleven, i got a call from a michigan area code. something inside of me knew exactly who was calling and what this call was concerning. i immediately felt weak, out of control, and my stomach was doing things it shouldn't, especially given the expectations i'd had for this day for some time now. i have never wanted to ignore something so desperately as i did that particular phone call; however, i knew of the importance of what was waiting for me on the other end. on the third ring, i answered and was matter-of-factly informed that he had died. my biological father had succumbed to his alcoholism.

for as long as i was old enough to be cognizant of it, he had fought, fight after fight and battle after battle. always with the same result, always adding another strike against him- physically and in regards to our relationship. i can't honestly say that he fought bravely or even tried whole-heartedly, which is probably the most difficult piece of the puzzle to come to terms with.

after hanging up, through my blubbering and incoherent mumbles, i apologized to my editor and told her that i needed to go home. in hindsight, i had no idea what i was feeling or why i was feeling it but i knew that i certainly couldn't process it all while sitting at an old wooden desk in a room without windows. i felt like the walls were collapsing in on me and it was only a matter of minutes before i lost it. she was very compassionate and kind. she simply hugged me with one of those, "i'm really sorry and i have no fucking clue what to say to you but i can at least give you a hug" kind of hugs. gratefully, that hug was enough to allow me to find me to my car and see my way through the blurry drive home.

the second i arrived home, i promptly crawled into the comfort of my bed, shoes possibly still on, deep under the covers and hiding from everything and everyone, and i quickly lost all ability to hold on. i allowed the dam to break. i stayed curled up in my cocoon for hours and just cried.

for a plethora of reasons- some that even to this day i have a hard time explaining- we hadn't spoken in years. when he passed away on a mother's day, i began to secretly worried that when i became a parent, would a day whose only purpose is to make me feel special and honored be tainted by a relationship that failed so painfully. to its' credit, it was a relationship that shaped a large part of the adult that i am; however, it was also, specifically as a parent, a relationship in which i learned more about what not to do than what to do as a person.

my first mother's day 
fast forward two very up and down years, years that i have spent healing, recovering, and discovering so much about myself. i've also reached the day that i became a parent. it is my first mother's day. may  13, 2012. i have been a mother for the entirety of eight very long days. sure, i felt quote, un-quote maternal from the day after i discovered we were pregnant. the actual day i found out i was pregnant, there was a bit of a what the fuck am i going to do now moment an adjustment period to the severe change in life plans. after about twelve hours of thinking, "okay, so, now what?" and a call to my therapist, i had come to terms with my new upcoming role and i began to acknowledge from that moment on that i was going to be a mother. almost immediately, i began to feel this instinctual desire to take care of people and things, to nourish life.

so, along comes mother's day, with my eight day old baby in tow. honestly, i didn't really feel that i had earned any right to be celebrated. joe has argued that if you were aware of what happened in the delivery room, you may have a dramatically different opinion of whether i earned a right to be celebrated, and in hindsight, i actually had earned quite a bit of something. pushing out a stubborn baby and having a postpartum hemorrhage ain't easy, people.

but, i was still high off of my new mama hormones and marlo slept all of the time. it all seemed very natural to me and, shall i dare to say, easy.

oh, how ignorance truly is bliss.

we've arrived. mother's day, 2013. an entire year has passed and the amount of change and growth that i have experienced is immense. i now have a full-of-fire one year old toddler, have suffered from postpartum depression for over a year now, and have moved to a very large and overwhelming new city. i enjoy my new and challenging life. i'd even go as far to say that i'm pretty good at it, although hardly near perfect.

this year? yes. yes, i feel that i have earned the right to celebrate this day. i don't expect or desire a parade or flowers or even a gift (i already bought myself a few things that could count for a gift, so there's that.) i don't expect joe to write me a love letter professing all of the ways that i'm a great mother and how the sun rises and falls out of my ass. all i want is for joe (and marlo, but she's too young to know what's going on) to acknowledge that i'm always trying my best.

motherhood is demanding and taxing in so many ways. it's full of physical and emotional obstacles every single day. i, by no means, do everything right or come even close. in fact, it's more common that i fail miserably. there are the days are seamless, with not a single tear shed- from either of us- which seem like a gift sent down from heaven. there are also the days aren't so accomodating, where i've thrown in my white please-have-mercy-on-mama towel by two pm and am just counting down the hours until bedtime. or until it's an acceptable time of day to have a glass of wine. there have also been a few days that have made me question whether or not i'm cut out for this stay-at-home mama gig. a day can go either way. but i've always woken up every morning and embraced the day, whichever way it decides to swing. really, what else can you do? there is not other option.

and there is marlo. my sweet, fiesty, happy, hysterical, and beautiful marlo. when she runs over to me and gives me a huge hug or runs through our apartment screaming at the top of her lungs, 'mamamamamamamama!' i know that i'm doing a damn fine job. i know that i'm doing my best and my best seems to be working.

my best seems to be good enough.

marlo is the result of me taking every painful learning experience, for example, the death of my father and our tumultuous relationship, and turning it into being my best possible self. and as her mother, it's my job to teach her that not everything is cheery and wonderful, not every day can be a winner. but taking the day that is desperately trying to ruin you and making the most of it? that is what i'm good at. and that's what i'm teaching her.

and for that reason alone, i know that i've earned this mother's day.



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