It is chilly in here today so I have the oversized scarf that doubles as a blanket draped across my lap. It is keeping my bare legs warm. I sit at my desk and look out the window. It’s not my window though. I am not a manager, yet, so I don’t get an office. I sit in a quad of cubicles with the other accountants who are also not managers. The window I am looking out sits on the other side of the glass wall that separates me from one of our company’s lawyers. I like that I have visual access to the outside. I have always been a fan of the outdoors. I love the way the sun feels on my skin. The heat never bothering me. More recently, I have found that I also enjoy the first prickle of a chill that comes in the fall and the way my entire body tenses while I am outside building a snowman with my son. In my head I know that being tense won’t keep me warm, but it is involuntary. It feels like if I relax, even more of the coldness will get in. I like the anticipation of it coming to an end. I know that after being outside for a while, I will get to open my front door and warmth will envelop me. Then there will be the tingling sensation as my extremities thaw. The sweatpants I will inevitably don, following a hot shower will feel extra soft and comforting. I will feel content.
Content. I can think of few better words in the entire world. When you are content, it means that – at that moment – you are truly happy. It means you have a moment of peace. Of joy. Of acceptance. Of calm. It is freedom from worry or stress. Even if it is fleeting, it is always welcome.
Despite my scarf blanket, a shiver runs down my spine. Perhaps, it was not a good idea to leave home with wet hair this morning. It is thick and curly so it takes a long time to air dry. I can feel the dampness at the nape of my neck where my ponytail is tied. I pull my bright green cardigan up higher, hoping that will help. It does. I am relieved. I know it is temporary as the sweater will surely slide back to it’s more natural place across my shoulders.
I decide to take a break from responding to my work emails and processing the invoices that I know I will never stop coming in. I check my personal email. Most days, there are 1 or 2 announcing that new blog posts have been written by someone whose blog I follow. Today there is only one. Although I do vaguely remember seeing a notification a few days ago that went unacknowledged by me. I will have to go look for it and catch up with that blogger. Today, the one I am treated to was written by a woman who chose to tackle Mothers Day and the complicated feelings that it can stir in some. Yes, Mothers Day is complicated for some. For me. I read her post, inserting myself into far too many of her scenarios.
Since I am nursing a cold, I stop midway through to blow my nose. I think about the conversation I had with my 11 year old son the previous evening.
Ah, allergies finally got to you huh?
Nope. It’s not allergies. This is a cold. I can tell the difference, I tell him.
A cold? He asks incredulously. Who gets a cold in the summer? You haven’t even been out in the rain or anything.
I laugh. Well, all it takes is for me to come in contact with the germs, I say. Rain or not.
I marvel at this child. I cannot believe how mature he is now. How much more growing and maturing he still has left to do. Mothering both he and his 10 year old brother is the best thing I have ever done. It has brought me the most joy. I neither want or need anything for Mothers Day, other than to know that they are happy and safe.
I read in the blog post about how we should take a moment to think of the women in our lives for whom mothers day brings sadness and that we should reach out to them with a kind word, or a card or gesture.
The woman who miscarried a few months prior. I don’t know any, I think to myself. The woman who has been unable to get pregnant in the first place after years of trying. I pause for a bit before going on. Yes, that is a tough one. That wasn’t my story, but I do know that story well. It is incredibly difficult. The woman whose mom has just passed away. The mother who is struggling to maintain her sanity while dealing with her teenagers. I mentally add, the single mother who does not know how she will get through one more minute, much less one entire day or the next week, month, year. I know that woman well. My chests feels heavy with the memories of the days I was alone raising 2 special needs toddlers and the weight of trying to be all they needed as well as maintain a full time job. It was the most difficult and exhausting time I’ve ever had in my life and there is no way anyone can understand it unless they have lived it. At that time, I couldn’t even think of celebrating Mothers Day. What was there to celebrate? I push those thoughts away and continue reading. I cannot get teary while sitting at my desk.
I continue reading. The woman who gave her baby up for adoption, the one who is in jail, the still single 30 something year old who wants desperately to find her life partner and a chance to even begin the journey … the list is long. She is trying to make sure that every reader feels seen.
The woman who hasn’t spoken to her mom in years. “She wishes things could have been different”, the author writes. That one hits close to home. Different. Yes, there is so much that I wish could have been different in my own life. I wish my Grandma were still here. I smile as I think about her. I wish I had a better, closer relationship with my actual mother. Weeks, maybe even months will pass without any communication between us, and then we will talk, or text – always keeping things light, superficial. There are no “I love yous” when we hang up, no inside jokes, we do not lean on each other for support or reach out for advice or to share good news. On Sunday, she won’t wish me a happy Mothers Day. Or at least, she never has in the past. I will send her a message and she’ll respond with a polite thank you.
Finally the author gets to her final group. My phone rings and even though I am eager to keep reading, I answer. I am at work after all. A few minutes later, I pull my browser back up and continue. I realize that even though my body as shifted position and my sweater is back to its rightful spot, leaving my neck exposed and vulnerable to my damp hair, I no longer feel cold. Then I sneeze into my elbow. I should try a different cold medicine, I think. The one I picked up at the drug store yesterday is not doing its job. I wonder briefly if there is anything else I need to get while I am there. I could use a box of tissues. The toilet paper I’ve been using is harsh on my nose. I toy with the idea of getting a Mothers Day card for my Mother-In-Law or GrandMother-In-Law, but at this point, it wouldn’t get to them on time. I wish I had thought to get it sooner. Just the tissues and a new medicine I decide.
I read on:
… there’s a stepmom smiling through her disappointment. She knows the marriage is new and everyone is trying to adjust and gracefully work out how to be a blended family. But she had hoped for a card or some acknowledgement this Mother’s Day. She’s loved her stepchildren as her own, but has struggled to gain their trust and love in return. As happy as she is that they are close with their mother, she hopes someday they’ll be close with her, too, and wishes that day were today.
I sit with this one for a moment. The copier next to me is making loud noises. Step-parenting is fraught with challenges for sure. However, I bristle at her description. I imagine that my own step mother might have tried to describe things that way in the early years. She would have been wrong to do so. She never loved me. I won’t even add the part that says “as her own”. She did not try to gain trust or love. She was not happy about other close relationships I had and wished only to have me out of her life. For reasons mostly unrelated to her own behaviour, she eventually got her wish.
Then there is my Shaunie. She jumped into step-parenting head first. She does love my children and they her. In many ways, it is the best anyone could hope for. That does not mean there are not times when things are not aligned properly. Understandably there are times she feels unappreciated. Or overwhelmed. There are times she does not understand the things I do. But how can she. I will always feel differently about the boys than she does and those feelings will shape the course of my actions.
I glance at the clock on the lower right side of my laptop screen. 11:03. It’s nearly time for me to eat lunch. My stomach reacts to this realization. A few new emails have come in and I need to address them. I’ll tackle the easy ones now and save the ones that will require more time or brain energy for after lunch. The lunch that will include the trip to the drug store where I have decided I will purchase 2 Mothers Day cards. If I am lucky they will get to NJ on Saturday. More likely though, they will get there on Monday; one day late. I reason, that’s better than not at all. I want the 2 women who have become family to me, to know that I appreciate them.
Another sneeze and sniffle. In my mind, I add orange juice to the growing drug store list and gather up my phone and keys to head out.