I’ve been reflecting this week about Mother’s Day and it’s made me sad.
My mother, who is without my dad for the first time in 64 years, lives in central Florida. She would have been alone but for my sister, who will be spending the week with her. This brought me a huge sigh of relief, but it didn’t make me, personally, feel any better about not being with my mom for Mother’s Day.
In many ways, my mom made me who I am. When I was in early elementary school and part of the local swim team, my mom sat in the bleachers watching practice. Afterward, she would say to me, “When the coach asks who wants to go first, you step forward and do it. Don’t hide in the shadows. Be the first!”
I swear that one piece of advice and encouragement has sent me down a path I might never have followed and informed who I am as a person to this day. My mom has spent her lifetime doling out these gems, always supporting me, always loving me, and always telling me how wonderful and beautiful I am, even when I’ve just rolled out of bed and am in a cranky mood. The beautiful thing is that there are lots of daughters and sons out there that feel the same way about their moms.
So when you can’t be with them on Mother’s Day, it’s not a good feeling. Neither is not being with your own children, which is my double whammy this year. My daughter lives in Maui now, where she teaches tourists how to scuba dive. It’s a dream job, but she is so, so far away. Even a phone call is difficult between the 5-hour time difference and work schedules. My son lives in Atlanta and is in a serious relationship with a girl I’ve barely been able to spend time with, another hazard of living far away from your kids.
Hence, my sadness. As happy as I am for their happiness, I’m sad that my kids won’t flank me at church on Sunday and pose for a Mother’s Day photo with me. This was always a day when “we do whatever Mom wants,” and yeah, I loved that. It was always just about us spending time together, and I reveled in that time.
It’s hard to live in a time when families are so spread apart. Growing up, we were all together – grandparents, aunts, cousins, everyone lived in the same town and saw each other frequently. I’m terribly jealous of my friends who grew up in Houston and have their family surrounding them. But for every one of them, I know there are two who are in our exact situation, and I’m guessing those moms are a little melancholy this year as well.
If you are, just know you are in good company. And here’s what I tell myself: Thank God I have family in my life that I love so much, I miss them like this. Thank God for that. Thank God they are independent, healthy, happy, and strong. My mom is doing surprisingly well living on her own for the first time in her life. My children have grown into adults who have fulfilling lives. My husband is willing to make me brunch to make up for my kids’ absence. So yeah, it could be a whole lot worse.
My wish for you is that wherever your mom is, you feel her love. Some of you will feel it from heaven, and some from across the miles. If you can’t be with her this Mother’s Day, take some time to think about her impact on you, on the many ways she has made you who you are today. If you can’t be with your kids, open yourself up to the love that comes through texts and phone calls and shared laughter. It may not be ideal, but the one thing I’ve learned is that distance can’t weaken love if you don’t let it.