For years now I've put together a Mother's Day drinks party at a local Oakland pub. The only ones invited are people who've lost their mothers, and we call it Dead Mother's Day. It's a place to go to be bitter about all the spam emails we've received ("Don't forget Mom!" As if we could.) It's fun, it's a bit more raucous than you'd think, and the bartender knows us now, knows why we're there year after year.
This year I don't want to do it. I'm officially Unorganizing it. For the first time, I'm okay not being angry at the day. I'm still sad, mind you. I'll never not be that.
But I'm not furious with Hallmark for promoting a day of shopping that serves to do nothing but rub my face in the fact that I'm motherless. I'm not as wildly jealous this year of those who send flowers to the mothers they still have.
I'm just thankful I got the one I was dealt because she was the best, and I was lucky to have her.
The way I honor her (every day–not just today because that's ridiculous) is that every book I write ends up being about mothers.
My most recent book, Pack Up the Moon, is about a woman with a complicated history with her own mother.
Kate checked her cell. Stared at it. Clicked the button and scrolled right. Left. She pulled up the entry for Mom and pushed Call. It rang once, then the recording said, as it always did, “You’ve reached a number that has been disconnected or changed. If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and try again.” Once upon a time Kate could call her. In the year since her mother had died, Kate called the number at least twice a week.
Kate pushed the disconnect button and stopped the recording. Someday someone would answer the phone and she’d know that the number wasn’t hers to call anymore, but until then, it was.
Kate loses her child (no spoilers; all this loss happens before the book starts), and with it, she loses the ability to mother. Then she finds the child she gave up for adoption, the girl who was adopted by two women. Was it really an accident that so many years ago Kate gave her own daughter double the number of mothers a girl usually has?
Kate poured Pree the first cup, and then waited until there was enough to pour for herself. Pree pushed a blue-black curl out of her eye and then stared into her coffee cup as if she were having a hard time deciding whether or not to take the first sip. She was so beautiful. Young. Gorgeous in her casually-worn luminous skin. Alive. For one second Kate allowed herself to bask in this feeling of pride in a person she’d helped create. It had been a long time. She’d almost forgotten what it felt like.
What if, on the very small chance, Pree was here because she wanted to talk? What if she wanted something from a mother she’d never had, a mother she didn’t know?
Sternly, she reminded herself a child with two mothers doesn’t lack for maternal advice. But oh, God, if she did… There weren’t words in the English language to describe how she’d feel. The color didn’t exist that would paint the happiness it would bring.
To be a mother. That’s what Pree’s mothers had had, this whole time. Kate hadn’t been a mother in three years, and the urge to be one was almost overwhelming. The urge to touch Pree (to smooth the hair back off her face, to touch the tip of her perfect nose) burned in her knuckles and made her fingers twitch. It was ridiculous, not to mention socially and morally unacceptable. And still it was there, inside her, a feeling that might knock her down, physically, all the way to the ground.
It's a bit odd, the knowledge that I'll write about mothers and daughters for the rest of my writing career. You'd think it could be exhausted after a few books, but I've barely tapped what I know of it (wait till you read the next book, if you thought this one was mother-centric! Is this a good time to make sure you're on my mailing list so you don't miss it?).
The love of a mother blazes with the sheer fury and wattage of the sun. A daughter radiates in it; she absorbs it. If she's lucky, the warmth is enough to sustain her her whole life, even when the sun goes out.
I wish you a Happy Mother's Day, most especially to those of you shivering in that kind of cold. There are many of us who know how you're feeling today. Love to you.
(Thanks, RedEnvelope, for inviting me to participate in the Mother's Day blog tour!)
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