Making Mother’s Day memories, without a Mother

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Lauren (22) and Caitlin (15), my blondes

 

It’s hard to miss the ominous presence of the love and celebratory preparations for Mother’s Day, if, like any other person, you have gone into a store or mall recently. Everywhere I look, there are flowers in pretty bouquets, banners welcoming shoppers eager to spoil their mother, and special menus popping up in all of my favourite restaurants. May 14th in the US will see yet another Mothers Day pass by, where I do not have my mother to treat, take out, or visit.

Mothers do not have to have passed on, like my own has, in order to be absent from your life. Sadly, there are many stories going untold, that leave women hurting everywhere. Emotions are usually far from happy and joyous on this day for many of us, and for me, it took a long time to learn how to live through a day that so many are enjoying, while I felt lonely and isolated.

I am a mother myself now, but being a mother, and being MOTHERED are two very different things. I also had a stepmother for a beautifully brief period of time, but that too, doesn’t replace the void I feel.

I learned to live through this day and find ways to still make it beautiful, and to honour my mum, so that I wasn’t sad and weepy, or jealous, like I was many times during school when I was a child. The obligatory craft making that ensued in the run-up to this day, often left me feeling miserable.  I couldn’t fill in the blanks on the teacher made cards with what colour she liked, what made her happy, and what I loved most. To me, those precious memories were in my heart, and with her gone, they simply didn’t translate onto paper and glue daffodils with the ease my classmates displayed.

I remember a beloved art teacher telling me once to make my gift for someone else. My grandmother was often the recipient of endless “motherless day” crafts I made. As an adult, now that she, too, has passed on, I am looking at mothers day in other ways to avoid the grief and pain that always slips into my current pleasant life, every time this day approaches. I’m sharing some of these things here.

  1. Place a photograph of your mother/motherly figure, somewhere in the open, and light a favourite candle. Reminisce with those around you, and share a special story, or talk openly about what you miss. I often find that sharing positive feelings and stories helps keep my mum near, and lets my husband and daughters get to know her.
  2. Buy some flowers from the array of beautiful displays for sale. Then either keep them or give them to a special woman in your life. I don’t need a special day to have something beautiful in my home, to enjoy, and to love. Also, there are many women I know that can be made to smile in presenting THEM with something special too. I know many ladies feeling lonely, or who are childless, and I love to bring a little light to someone else. I think my mother would have loved this.
  3. Enjoy being treated nicely by those in your life who love you! Whether that’s a husband or partner, children, nieces and nephews or siblings. Allow people to treat you and do nice things for you, because you are so special to them! Again, there is a diffference to being mothered, and being one, but Ive definitly loved my early morning mothers day raps, homemade “lovebots’, funny made by hand cards, and many days worth of burnt toast and ketchup sandwiches in bed ( a long story!), that my children “treat” me to.
  4. Turn the day into a new celebration! Invite friends over, or family members, and people who are spending the day alone, or not celebrating others. Make it about love and friendship, and a gathering. It doesn’t have to be limited to mothers. This way, you are bringing together a little tribe of people, and starting new traditions.
  5. Music always ignites emotions, so load up a playlist on your device or phone, and get into your car and drive. Cry, laugh, grieve, miss her, remember her, and spend time alone (with her). It is ABSOLUTELY ok to NOT BE OK. It IS hard, and setting aside some time to privately mourn and think about things you wanted to say, seasons she has missed, or joys she didn’t get to encounter, is understandable and normal.  You are not alone in doing this.
  6. Start a small collection. I used to think of my mother when I saw a lighthouse. On her birthday and mothers day I would seek out little ornaments or memorabilia, and buy them as a “gift”. This way she was around me all the time, and I always had the intention of sharing these with my children one day. Or, make a donation as a gift, each year, to a charity she liked, or one that would be a cause in her memory. I even want to buy a star, and name it Elizabeth, after my mother, a perhaps silly to some, but positive way, to have her in my “universe” again.
  7. Lastly, don’t be alone the entire day. Do something that will bring you happiness. See a film with an available friend, go to the beach, enjoy a show. Do something that will surround you with laughter and fun, excitement and life. I have done this many times when I feel lonely. It truly helped remind me that I am still here, and still meant to truly live my life!

The Elizabeth Sessions ~ Happy Birthday, Mum

May 9th is today. And had God had a different plan in mind for my life, today I would be celebrating the birthday of my mum, Elizabeth. Instead, I mourn her, as I always do, as she passed long ago when I was a little girl. Nothing ever makes up for the time I will never know, the hugs I will never feel, the fights I will never get to have, the moments she has missed or the tears that still flow when I need a real mum to talk to, in a way only mothers can be there for.
On Facebook, in remembrance, people change their profile pictures into one of their loved ones who passed. I can’t do that. I have exactly two images of my mother: a black and white one of her on a bench, and a passport image of her and my dad before they broke up. I wish I had one of her and I. In fact, I wish I had more, of her in general. Or of her with my children or of her with my new husband. Or again, just of her. I don’t. I realize more and more with each client I meet in my business the absolute importance of having photographs to pull memories from. To cherish and to remember. I don’t. **Id usually insert a sad face here and a gratuitous tear, but I won’t. The memories i DO have of her were great. Fun. Childish, but happy. Short, but very, very sweet.
As much as I, like many people, cringe at the thought of being in FRONT of the camera, I am determined to leave behind better memories for my own daughter. And memories that include photographs.
Every year on her birthday I do something; play a song she liked, or read from her bible, or go shopping with her memories to buy a little thing that would remind me of her. This year ~ something different.
I am offering a mother and daughter mini session event, at a very low price of $75. The precedes going to a charity, Adopt America Network, so that we can help create homes for children with no families, here domestically.
The date of these sessions will be May 25th, starting at 4 and going till 7, in slots of 15 minutes each. These won’t last long! Please email me at debbielaughlinphotography@live.com or contact me on Facebook or via my website to reserve your spot and get a digital album of images with you and your mother!
I really hope she is up there looking down on me smiling (Im hiding my cherries mum…) and knows that each and every day, I wish she were here.
Happy Birthday, Mum xoxoxDebbieLaughlinPhotography_ElizabethSessions-9
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