Mother's Day tributes on social media are downright painful for all of us coping with a void.
Mother's Day is a punch in the gut for anyone not celebrating with their mother. The ache doesn't discriminate against the reason of absence. Mother's Day tributes on social media are downright painful for all of us coping with a void.
The feeling of motherlessness is overwhelming throughout the year but near Mother's Day its intensity can be downright suffocating. As the days creep closer to that Sunday, my anxiety level steadily increases to an agitated state.
This will be the first Mother's Day without my mom, since making the decision to cut off contact with her for my own sanity earlier this year.
Conflicting feelings battle inside my heart: dread of the actual day and anticipation of its passing until the next year. While traditional holidays celebrated on my own have been developed over the past several years, the awkwardness of establishing a new way to get through the day is fresh.
Not surprisingly, my past several weekly therapy sessions have centered on making sense of the emotional tornado brewing. My therapist has repeatedly encouraged me to figure out what I need in order to comfort myself.
Pulling the covers over my head with the companionship of pinot noir and Grey's Anatomy reruns was my first instinct. Or abandoning my smartphone for the weekend and secluding myself at a hotel. Anything to not be reminded of what I'm missing on Mother's Day.
As I continued to mull over my grand holiday avoidance plan while mindlessly browsing a bookstore last week, I unintentionally found myself face-to-face with a display of Mother's Day cards. Besides the floral print and loopy cursive type, each card had a common theme: gratitude to the receiver (mother) for being a strong, positive influence in the giver's (child) life, using words like supportive, encouraging, understanding, caring, accepting and unconditional love.
My mother, sadly, is not the person in my life to provide any of those things, nor can she even provide those for herself. However, there are a handful of women in my life that embody the uplifting traits that are celebrated on Mother's Day.
None of these women knew me as a child, nor do they have any connection to my mother. But their presence in my life mirror the qualities recognized on Mother's Day.
They weren't present for my first steps as an infant, their support kept me steady while testing the shaky legs of my young adulthood.
They weren't around when I was struggling to figure out fractions, but their insight has helped me problem-solve issues from finding love to independently putting air in a car tire.
My artwork didn't hang on their refrigerators but when an article of mine is published, they're the first to read it.
They weren't there when I had nightmares fueled by RL Stine's Goosebumps, but haven't left my side when the lump in my throat becomes too large to choke back tears.
These women came into my life after the growth spurts and braces but their influence has been essential to my growth as a woman who is finally comfortable in her own skin.
Being able able to celebrate these maternal figures is a step toward redefining what Mother's Day represents for me. I still expect the day to be full of messy, complex emotions that will include ingesting too much wine.
Grappling with the loss of my mother's former vibrant presence will be a continual process that will extend far beyond Mother's Day. And while no person or action can completely ease the ache, the friendship of these surrogate moms radiates a warmth and hope that can only be found through a mother's love.
This article was originally published at The Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.