The Morning After Mother’s Day

The Morning After Mother’s Day
By: Jennifer Massoni Pardini

The morning after Mother’s Day was harder than Mother’s Day itself . That’s a surprise. Maybe that’s because Mother’s Day itself was a Sunday. That means Ryan was home, and we took Ruby out for some tennis balls in the backyard, and we ate all three of our meals together, and we called our moms and heard their voices, and reflected out loud about Lorenzo.

Last year on Mother’s Day, I was home in California, celebrating with my mom and Ryan’s mom as well as my aunt and uncle who were in town for one of my baby showers. Imagine! How different the world was! Ryan’s mom gave me a sweet book of poetry about motherhood. Right now, that book is in a shopping bag with other baby-related reading in a closet I very rarely open. Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 7.50.43 PM

But I am a mother. How to square this with our culture’s typical interpretation and projected imagery of “motherhood”? I’m trying to write an entire book to square it, but yesterday I wasn’t concerned with that. I stayed offline. I got a haircut from a friend who makes me laugh. I finished “Swimming with Maya,” by Eleanor Vincent, who lost her 19-year-old daughter after a freak fall from a horse. Last week, I finished “Holding Silvan,” by Monica Wesolowska about letting go of her beautiful infant son. Last month, I finished “The Still Point of the Turning World,” by Emily Rapp about parenting her terminally-ill child. Last year, I read “An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination,” by Elizabeth McCracken about her stillborn baby. Are we mothers ever really in control?

Mostly, I thought about Lorenzo. I kept thinking over and over: I hope I was the mother Lorenzo needed me to be. I pray with all my heart and will that he senses that. It is all that matters at this point: that he somehow feels the love Ryan and I have for him. It’s the same love out of which we made our decision. The thoughts arrived with a clarity that hasn’t settled so close to me since those first days without him. Maybe that was my Mother’s Day gift.

Mother’s Day happens in autumn here. There are fallen leaves all over the ground… again. They tell me without my having to think that it’s almost been a year. On May 28, we received the diagnosis. On June 2, I saw my son’s beautiful face. Those days are right around the corner. Mother’s Day, always in May, was yesterday. It’s a vortex of time and loss and love.

I’ve joined a professional support group for moms like me, and it’s helping. We speak over the phone when it’s late in Santiago and I’m the only one in the house still awake. When I mentioned the impact of the leaves on the ground, the leader said that our memory—and its weather, smells, etc.—can put us in a completely different place with our loss. She also told us to prepare for these anniversaries, to ask ourselves what’s the best way to spend the day? Where? With whom? We’re supposed to have a Plan A and a Plan B in case we need to be flexible. We’re supposed to let others know we may need extra support.

So, here I am, letting you know. To those of you who remembered me yesterday and acknowledged Lorenzo and my form of motherhood, I can’t tell you how much that means. Frankly, on a morning like this one, it means I have soft spots to go back to and rest upon.

I want to extend the same courtesy. To everyone who is a mom in a way she didn’t expect, who wants to be a mom, who is struggling to become a mom, who has lost a mom, who needs a mom, who has accepted she won’t be a mom, I wish you strength and peace and solidarity this morning after Mother’s Day. On whichever day that’s harder than the one before, I hope I can provide a soft spot for you when you need a rest.

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