Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Motherless Mother's Day Paradox

When I was younger (i.e. before I had kids) I used to celebrate New Year’s Eve by going out to parties, dinners and other festivities. Now Mrs. Dude and I stay in, make our traditional Appetizer Dinner, and usually fall asleep before the ball drops.

When I was even younger than that, Halloween was always a chilly Midwestern night spent running around the neighborhood with friends, dressed crazily and on the hunt for a slew of candy. These days I spend October 31st chasing down my 2 Junior Dudes, trying to get that one elusive snapshot featuring both of them actually smiling and looking at the camera while dressed in their costumes. I still try to get a slew of candy, though now it’s under the auspices of being for the kids.

The way we celebrate events and milestones evolves over the course of our lives. Things that seemed extremely important then (like having a Valentine) are not nearly as important as I realize that others are now (understanding why Martin Luther King Day is not just a random day-off).  There are also some days that we don’t realize the importance of until after the fact.

This year, for the 6th year in a row, I’ll honor Mrs. Dude on Mother’s Day. The first year was merely symbolic, since she was just completing the first trimester with the Little Dude in her belly, but the last 4, plus this year, are the real deal.

Also this year, for the 4th year in a row, I’ll remember my own Mother who is now infinitely farther away than she was on the phone calls I made to her over the previous 11 second Sundays in May while living 3,000 miles away from her.


This maternal dichotomy has turned Mother’s Day into a bittersweet time for me. I couldn’t be more proud of my wife for the amazing job she does day after day caring for and nurturing our two spirited young sons. But I also couldn’t miss my own mother more than I do on this day, for some reason more than on others.

There are myriad annual events which might be considered more important or seem more significant like birthdays, anniversaries or even the date of her death. But for some reason Mother’s Day now always feels like a bucket of ice-cold water to the face for me. Maybe it’s the regret of not spending more of these holidays actually visiting her or it could just be further reinforcement of the finality of her passing.

Just as I felt like an outsider while growing up Jewish during Christmas season, silently dreaming of the grass being greener in the other Testament, now for some reason I have a hard time shaking the emptiness that is inherent this time of year.  Again, this is not a knock on my own wife who will be celebrated from start to finish that day because she has earned and deserves it. But these women who sacrifice literally everything for their children & families should be remembered not only on a random Sunday, but every day. These incredible parental legacies must live on, whether they are around the corner or on the other side of fate.

Maybe the most important thing I can hope is that just as my Mother used to wait up for me to come home around midnight when I was a teen to make sure I was home safely and securely, that she is still watching out for, or over, me to make sure that things are OK on my side. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to know she’s looking for assurance that I’m happy, which I usually am, or that my family is thriving, which we seem to be.

What I now know is that even though I only got 35 Mother’s Days with my Mother, which was more than some people get and less than others, those were the best possible gifts for her and for me. Now I must teach my boys to make the most of their own Mother’s Days, because no matter how many they get it might not be enough to fully honor the most special person in their lives: their Mother. 

Happy Mother's Day to you and yours. 

The two finest mothers I could ever imagine:
 Mine (L) & Mrs. Dude (R)
10-month-old Little Dude (C)



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