I’m not sure how I feel about Mother’s Day.
Although, I’m the mother of two young boys, I don’t feel the day is about me or the love and devotion I bestow on them. Perhaps my boys are too young now. Hopefully, when they’re grown they’ll use the day to happily acknowledge my existence and maybe I’ll be able to appreciate it then. It would make sense, because Mother’s Day has me remembering my mom. I see it as her day, not mine.
But, she’s gone and the day forces me to face what I’ve lost, not what I’ve found over the years.
It still feels physically “off,” not having a mother. Even after eleven years a piece of me remains missing, but it’s not only physical. An emotional connection to my past has been severed. An older generation shares a history, a way of life my children will never experience or learn about first hand through stories, celebrations, food, and my grandparents’ favorite, card games.
My boys have lost too, only they don’t know it yet.
I was reminded of this recently when I came across a blue sweater and matching hat my Great Aunt Shirley, knitted for my oldest son months after his arrival from Russia nearly seven years ago.
My grandmother and her sister were quite the knitters. Growing up I remember an unspoken competition between them. Who was the better knitter? They were funny the way they’d check out each other’s work, closely examining stitches, comparing buttons. Reluctantly complimenting the other.
“Oh, nice popcorn stitch. If you want to go that way.”
|Shirley, flanked by
Mom, left and her sister Fran, both
taken by breast cancer
As a Depression era child, post war teen, my mother knew how to knit, but didn’t care to. Taught under less than ideal circumstances, she found zero joy in it, but that one older generation saw it as necessity. A way to dress warmly without spending a great deal of money. The perfect gift for a newborn.
For a daughter’s baby…
Over the years I watched as my brothers and their wives unwrapped newly knit sweaters for their babies. Reveling in the handmade gift, not just for the love and effort invested there, but for the promise of a future time when the grown child sees it as a link to their past, the history of their women all wrapped up in pink and blue.
My mother and grandmother were long gone by 2004, when I first became a mother.
Who would knit for me?
My Great Aunt Shirley, months from the end of her life, gave me that gift. And it meant the world to me. As I resurrected that sweater from the drawer it was living in since my babies have grown, I knew I couldn’t close the drawer on it again — Or what it came to represent.
As luck would have it, Great Aunt Shirley’s great-granddaughter had just been born and though it was blue, I couldn’t think of a better gift…and passed it on.
Wrapping it carefully, I remembered the women in my life who knit, who are gone. Knowing there’s no one left of that generation who can create such a gift. Giving the sweater away felt a bit like breaking the tie that binds me to them.
And I was sad for that. Sad and a bit selfish that I no longer have those women in my life. Those that saw me, not as a mother, but as a daughter.
I’m not sure why it seems to matter more on Mother’s Day than any other day. The loss is always the same, but most days I’m too busy being a mother to consider that I might need one.
On this day, a day set aside to honor those that love us, I remember those I loved, the gifts they gave, the legacy they left behind and can only hope my children will someday understand and reap the rewards of such a history.