My inbox has been full of Mother’s Day pitches for the last two weeks.
There are products and services that “Mom will Love!” Top ten gift lists. Reminder services. Floral arrangements. Humanitarian aid causes. Even a stop smoking device.
But I’m not biting.
For the first year that I can remember, I don’t particularly want anything. I mean, sure, I want those Tory Burch peep toe pumps that I saw at Nordstrom last week. And I’d never say no to a Starbucks card or a hundred other little gifts my people could buy for me. But I don’t need them or the marketing fantasy that goes with. I don’t want to stake my self worth as a mom on my family’s ability to read my mind and reward me by fulfilling my retail fantasies. That’s just stuff. Seriously, if I want the shoes, there’s nothing stopping me from buying them for myself.
This is new. Sadly, I’ve spent more Mother’s Days, Anniversaries, and Birthdays bitter, than I care to admit. All those holiday ads where the husband surprises the wife with a Lexus with a giant bow? Sucker. But there has been a shift in me. It must have been gradual. But the difference feels abrupt.
I’m still exploring my new attitude. It feels like I’m not doing it alone. Every time I think of Mother’s Day, an old friend of mine keeps popping into my mind.
Our kids were in preschool together. I was new to the area and she was native, the “expert”. I relied on her advice and her huge personality filled our little clique with life. She adored her kids and her husband. She was quick to anger and quicker to get over it. She was busy, busy, busy, always on the move and caught up in something. Usually something that had to do with her kids. Huge birthday parties and home parties – she set the trends. She was a modern day supermom.
We grew apart as our kids aged into different schools, but still we existed in the same orbit. We’d pass at Target buying teacher gifts or a mutual friend would link us saying “Oh yeah, M just said she was thinking of going there for break”. As our kids were destined for the same high school I idly assumed we’d pick up our friendship in highschool where we left off in preschool, wondering how the time had flown, how our cute little babies had grown so fast.
And then she was killed in a random freak accident. A tragic one in ten million accident where one minute she was standing on the sidewalk saving a stray dog (typical), and the next she was hit by a car that lost control and jumped the sidewalk.
It’s been over a year now and still my friend pops into my mind every single time I drive up that street. She floats to me in my car and rides alongside as my invisible passenger each time I pass the schools our kids attended together. I sense her energy nearby whenever someone mentions 911 – a day we spent examining our lives together. We vowed to seize the day and hug our children tighter every night.
In the year that’s passed, our children have somehow found each other and renewed their friendship, without any help from us. My daughter was shocked to learn she knew this boy in her preschool life. She was unphased by the coincidence that she’d become good friends with him this year, out of over a thousand students. My sentimentality makes her uncomfortable. I mentioned to her that I felt haunted by this other mother and she scoffed at me. “Seriously Mommy?! She is NOT haunting you. It’s all in your head.” It was a perfect conversation in reverse. Just the sort of thing I’d tell her, actually.
The other day while digging through my basket of photos for my review of the Brookstone Scanner, I found a photo of my friend and her two children. It surprised me, and made me catch my breath as I didn’t remember the shot. I’d been through the basket a dozen times without noticing it. But there she was. Hugging them close, eyes so bright and shining. The day came back to me as I flipped through the rest of the pile. 11 years ago. A Mother’s Day tea at the preschool. Oh! The light in her eyes.
It was as if she was saying to me now: “THIS! This is what you have! Hold on!”
I quickly texted the photo to a common friend. She said it was hard to look at the photo. I found it equally hard to stop.
Even though she’s gone, I can still almost tangibly feel her love for those children across time and space. I only hope they can feel it too. They must.
I don’t want to make my site a Mother’s Day marketing platform this year. I don’t want anyone to feel pressured to pick out the perfect gift. There isn’t one. Make me breakfast and pick me some flowers in you must. But I don’t want a “Top Ten Gift for Moms” list here. You cannot encapsulate “THIS” in a velvet box or even a car with a bow.
Besides, I can buy my own shoes, if it’s shoes I want. I’ll wear them when I take a photo hugging my own kids, and I’ll let that same light shine out of my own eyes. Across time and space. Once a mother, always a mother.