What I liked about mother’s day 2019, compared to previous mother’s days, is the emergence of literature (social media and my trusty newspaper) that not everyone is happy on happy mother’s day. I needed this reminder. For some people, it really sucks. “Be careful about your boasting” was the message I received. So hard when I live and breathe and sometimes gag over their every movement. So hard when I spend 364 days trying to shape them into thinkers, doers, college-bound, and nice-to-Mom and on day #365 I get a card that says MOM upside down is WOW. So hard not to share. But I deeply respect the silent sadness that is out there. How I wish I could say I-SEE-YOU to all of you. Today was 5/12/19.
Call it what YOU want.
2019 also had a plethora of articles on “How To Spend Mother’s Day.” Every article had the same message: “Any way you want.” Sometimes it said: “Any way you f@#$-ing want.” Either way, message received. I had the day off, so my requests were: sleep in, long run, chill with kiddos (with tag-out privileges at any moment), then dash to a store or two or three. For the most part, it worked out! Handmade gifts and cards are just what the doctor of pharmacy ordered and it was perfect. I even found myself alone with my coveted Sunday Chicago Tribune with a hot coffee for 30 minutes. And then it happened: I read a story that I shouldn’t have. I saw the headline and knew better – I should have turned the page. But I read the darn story. Chicago-land recently lost a young child, at the hands of his parents, and it’s been heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching and makes me want to scream and shout and let it all out. I’ve purposely been avoiding the updates and NPR in the car because I just can’t handle those kinds of details. Especially not on my commutes. Because if I listen, I won’t be able to hold back the sorrow for this child that I’ve been pushing down inside. But today, on mother’s day 2019, I read the full article. And I let the sobs come. The kind which causes shoulders to shake, nose to run, and dogs to come lean. I was alone with the heavy Tribune, my heavy luke-warm coffee, and my heavy dog. Everything was heavy and I was alone and the moment eventually passed.
My daughter returned from gymnastics and remembered she forgot one more gift in her backpack: a glass jar filled with 20 reasons why she loves me. Happy tears. (Who gives young children glass jars?) Soon the tribune article was in my rearview mirror, my coffee forgotten, and the dog disappeared. So many times as pharmacists we get a glimpse into someone’s home life. We hear how loved ones talk to one another, we squinch at the humiliation, and pray there’s no fear. We know that with trust comes stories. From patients, students, and technicians. Everyday we make the decision whether or not to engage, inquire, and invest our emotional and professional reserves. The reserves saved for our own stuff and our families’ stuff. Some of us are brave and scared and go in anyway. Some of us skate along the line we’ve drawn in the sand.
We often don’t know what to do if we suspect neglect, abuse, or mistreatment. My colleague and I have been teaching a women’s health elective for years and we always include a class on domestic violence. We invite a guest speaker from a local shelter or support agency to speak to the pharmacy students about how we can help. She gives us tools, such as conversation starters and resources, to use when the time is right. I’ll write more on this in the future because it deserves more time and space but fittingly for today, we are reminded of those mothers who don’t have choices. I’m so freaking thankful that I am celebrating mother’s day 2019, because it reminds me that love overcomes hate and the good tears overcome the sorrowful ones. I’m thankful that I was able to choose how I wanted to spend mother’s day 2019, not just the activities, but because it served as a reminder of a real choice that stems from an equitable partner team. I’m thankful that my parents made this visible for me and in turn, I hope my own children remember this.
For moms of fallen children, for the moms who feel helpless, for the moms who feel boastful, for the moms in prison, for the moms without partners, for the moms in our hearts – today was 5/12/19 – you get to call it what you want.