Mother’s Day 2020 is going to be yet another holiday steeped with frustration (for me) and to some degree, melancholy. I am unhappy that I won’t be able to spend the day with my mom, aunt and sister-in-law. On the flip side, I am relieved they are all alive and well at this point. Many people my age are not so blessed.
For so many years, I seethed with envy as my friends would share stories about how they were showered with special meals, treats and accolades by their families this one day each year. As a woman who had not been gifted with the ability to have children, I ached with the emptiness this created in my soul. I wondered why I had been deemed unworthy by God for this gift. Especially when so many children were unloved or uncared for in our society. It made me angry and depressed.
When The Hubs and I married — he came with a sidekick. A 12-year-old son, who quickly moved into our household shortly after our marriage — right after he turned 13. I was ecstatic. I thought, finally! I would get to experience all the joys of parenthood and I envisioned all sorts of happy scenarios with this new addition in my life. It never worked out that way. Junior made it clear that I was not his mother and never would be. The respect, appreciation and affection never came, despite my best efforts to provide for and teach him. Eventually, I just gave up trying because numbness was easier to deal with rather than repeated disappointment and verbal disparagement. My husband would try to make amends, purchasing cards and gifts and having his son sign them, until I finally asked him to just stop. The charade made me feel even lonelier.
When we had Princess Buttercup for nine beautiful months, thinking we would be able to adopt her — I was overjoyed and felt complete. When she was returned to her family, I was devastated beyond words, but clung to the promise by her mother that we could stay in touch. Weekly, I sent one text message asking if we could visit, until Mother’s Day. On that day, I had sent a message wishing a joyful day with blessings and received a text back telling me among other things, to never contact her again. It was a cruel and vicious blow, which cut deeply.
Four years later, I still worry and pray for our Princess, asking God to ensure she is cared for, loved and safe. That we will someday reconnect. It’s in his hands now.
Today, we have a spunky 3-year-old son, who in some ways has been a saving grace. He is smart as can be, funny, enthusiastic and so full of life, I envy him in many ways. While he can make us feel bone tired and exasperated like no one else, he also reminds me every moment what it is like to feel so alive. He shows me the world in a new light and is generous with his praise and ability to engage with others. Oh, don’t be mistaken, he can try the patience of a saint; he refuses to consider potty training, likes to strip at every opportunity, insists on growling like a dinosaur instead of talking and just this week, I discovered he had been finger painting with boogers on my bedroom mirror. But he also presents me with dandelions and cooed with awe over a nest of baby bunnies. He asks me to kiss his boo-boos before he covers up half his leg or arm with band-aids. He belts out songs off-tune about dinosaurs as he swings — demanding, “Go higher!” He mimics his dad, following him on his riding tractor as daddy mows the lawn — always saying he wants to help. He wants to take yellow flowers to grandma when we visit and like to play with tractors with his grandpa. He tells everyone that Daddy is his Best Pal and he loves him so much.
I sometimes wonder if those other losses and disappointments were part of a grand design to fully appreciate this child, who I consider our biggest gift of all time. I consider my husband who lavishes so much time and patience on Sparky as the other gift. He patiently shows him how to do small tasks and draws picture after picture of dinosaurs. Even as I work, I can hear them in the next room playing with the dinosaurs and race cars. An odd combination, but one that makes them happy.
This Mother’s Day, even though the family will not be together, my heart will be full. I will conspire to celebrate my mom and aunt in a small way and will look at my husband and son, knowing they are the best gifts I have.
I hope all of you have a Happy Mother’s Day, even if it is simply a happy memory.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.