Six years ago, the impact of Mother’s Day took on additional meaning, almost as much as the first year I celebrated it as a mother.
It was the first Mother’s Day I spent with my daughter, Paige; my daughter who has another mother.
Each Mother’s Day I am grateful for Ruth’s mistakes, which gave me the two little girls who give me hugs, and gray hair…
God forgive me, I am grateful.
Each Mother’s Day I feel bittersweet. I am sad Ruth made such horrible mistakes that she will never get the hugs or the gray hairs, the result of these two little people.
God help me, my heart breaks.
I can recall each Mother’s Day since then with perfect clarity:
2009: We celebrated our first Mother’s Day with Paige. Ruth was living in a residential treatment center. I passed on a Mother’s Day card, irritated but not surprised one for our rather unique circumstance didn’t exist.
2010: We simultaneously celebrated Paige’s adoption and Mother’s Day. We had Paige’s dedication and a huge adoption party at our church. Ruth and David were in jail.
2011: We celebrated our first Mother’s Day with both Paige and Payten being legally ours. Ruth was checking into another rehab program, and the last I heard from her for over a year was a brief Happy Mother’s Day Facebook message.
2012: I hadn’t had contact with Ruth in over a year. I thought not being in her life was the kick she needed to sober up once and for all; I still didn’t understand that anything I did or didn’t do had anything to do with her sobriety. I was burned out on motherhood and asked for a day of isolation. Andrew took the kids to his parents’ house so I could have some peace and quiet. I had a wonderful day, complete with facial and massage, gift certificates to a restaurant, and lots of time to recharge my introverted batteries.
I also sat on the couch and watched a movie, cried for Ruth and wrote her a poem.
We had no contact on Mother’s Day; however, around this time she was hopping in and out of rehab and the hospital. We got in touch a short time later but, as always happened, she fell off the face of the earth. I wrote her off – I couldn’t keep putting myself through the pain.
2013: I received a card from her about a month before Mother’s Day. We exchanged a couple of emails, and then she stopped responding. On Mother’s Day itself, I don’t know what she did. I didn’t care what she did. I was merely praying my first baby, my four-legged fuzzy baby, would miraculously recover from cancer. We put him down on Memorial Day weekend.
2014: I was celebrating my recovery from atrial fibrillation, which had kept me inactive the prior month because of extreme shortness of breath and fatigue. I was simultaneously mourning the upcoming one-year anniversary of losing my first baby, Clyde. I hadn’t heard from Ruth since the year before. I had no clue where she was or what she was doing as I’d asked her mother not to talk about her.
2015: I’ve had a wonderful day – I slept in, had my favorite coffee and bagel, and had a quiet day working on my memoir while my husband cleaned the house and kept the kids occupied so I could concentrate. I don’t know what she is doing; however, she commented on a mutual friend’s Facebook post, so I know she’s around.
Mother’s Day means different things to different people:
- Perhaps your child is a cat, like my first baby.
- Perhaps you’re mourning the loss of your mother.
- Perhaps your children bring you breakfast in bed, complete with flowers and rudimentary but beautiful artwork.
- Perhaps you spend it without your children because of the mistakes you’ve made.
But those mistakes do not make do not make women like Ruth less of a mother.
Nor does it reduce the love they have for their children.
I am both blessed and cursed to be able to place a name and face to my daughters’ other mother.
I am sure she feels the same way.
I love you, Ruthie.