Skip to main content

Sisterhood of the Motherless Daughters

My poor husband, Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB). He doesn't need a calendar to know when Mother's Day is coming. My annual stank attitude around Mother's Day is more than enough warning.

If my attitude around Mother's Day had a smell, it would be this: Picture a huge pot of gumbo with every kind of meat you can imagine in it -- shrimp, crab, oysters, sausage, chicken, fish. Now imagine that pot of gumbo left outside, covered, for 30 days in 100 degree heat. Imagine that at day 15 someone threw in a dead skunk and put the cover back on.

That smell on day 30 would be the smell of my stank Mother's Day attitude.

Mother's Day is a stark reminder that, going on eleven years, I unwillingly joined what I call the "Sisterhood of the Motherless Daughters" -- women whose mothers are deceased. You know us when you see us. On Mother's Day morning, usually before church, we're at the cemetery. Most of us are in our late 30's and up, taking on the body shapes of our mothers. In my case, that means a wide butt and a tummy. I didn't get my mother's late-life ample bosom, though.

We acknowledge each other in a knowing way; we're all bearing flowers, most of us dressed well to celebrate the day on what I would call the "receiving end" -- being acknowledged as mothers. For my biological sisters and I, all of us childless and middle-aged, we don't celebrate the receiving end of the day. My "spiritual" sisters in this sisterhood lovingly place flowers at the crypts or graves of their departed mothers. Some laugh and joke, some talk to their deceased mothers, some join hands and pray, but we all seem to acknowledge each other with that slight, encouraging smile that says, "Yes, I know what you're feeling; it's tough for me, too."

I rarely see as many sons at the cemetery on Mother's Day as I do daughters, which makes my membership in this sisterhood all the more emphasized.

Mind you, I have much to celebrate even without my mom, SWIE (She Who Is Exalted). I have a great mother-in-law -- I could not have asked for better. My dad's wife is kindly and funny and a force of nature even going on 95 years of age, and although she is sweet, I can't bring myself to call her my "stepmom" because that title includes the word "mom" -- a title I only use in speaking of or to SWIE. I could celebrate Mother's Day with either of them. I have in the past celebrated it with my mother-in-law. But at this juncture in life, I feel about Mother's Day the way I imagine Jews feel about Christmas -- I'm happy for those who celebrate it, but I feel I have nothing to celebrate.

There's so much I miss about Mother's Day, and none of it has anything to do with not being a mother myself, but rather, being a motherless daughter. I miss the competition between my siblings and me to figure out what Mom would want and to be the first to go out and get it. Although she would appreciate our gifts equally, we would kid each other about how "our" gift was the one she really wanted or loved. Our last minutes forays through Macy's would put contestants on "The Amazing Race" to shame.

I miss the inevitable phone call between Mom and her best friend, her older sister, comparing what they got and talking about other people's triflin' children who didn't deliver the goods on Mother's Day.

After Mom died, my sisters and I transferred all our Mother's Day gift-giving energies to my mom's sisters. Although they appreciated the Estee Lauder perfume (one of my aunts said she liked smelling as good as "white ladies"), they were even more appreciative of the visits from all four of us.

Then they, too, passed away, leaving my sisters and me kind of bereft. Now, we just bring extra flowers to the cemetery for my mom, her sisters, and her mother on Mother's Day. Anything else on that day -- going to church with my mother-in-law, doing Mother's Day events -- just feels false to me. I had a good run of 64 years with my mom. My days of celebrating Mother's Day, other than the visits to the cemetery, are done. Mother's Day to me is just a reminder of all that I lost, hence the annual stank attitude I didn't even notice I had until a few years ago.

When I explained this to BMNB recently, he said, "I understand." I know he didn't mean it in the cliched, Bill Clinton-esque "I feel your pain" way, but it just sounded that way to me.

"No, you really don't," I calmly told him. "But someday, you will. And I wouldn't wish that on you for anything in the world."

For those of you who still have mothers, do cherish them and enjoy Mother's Day. Because you never really know how many Mother's Days you're going to have, and I wouldn't wish membership in this sisterhood on anyone for anything in the world.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Retired Man Walking: Too Young to Retire, Too Old to Take Shit

A while back I ran into a friend and fellow professional employed by the State of California, and he offered me his perspective on State employment as a tail-end Baby Boomer like myself -- someone who can't retire because he lacks the requisite age or years of service, but, unlike myself, is tired of taking shit from superiors who don't know what to do with you.

Although my friend gave his permission for me to use his name in this blog entry, I decline to do so because what he does is so specialized that it would not be hard for anyone to identify him as one of the few African American men, if not the only African-American man, in California state civil service who does what he does. For purposes of this blog entry, I will refer to him as he now refers to himself:  Retired Man Walking.

Retired Man Walking, or RMW, has an interesting philosophy he applies to working for the State as a professional who isn't old enough to retire but has been around long enough to know the s…

My Prayer and Mantra for 2017 -- Do Not Waste Time on People and Things That Don't Matter

In this era of fake news, fake political candidates, and fake people all around, my prayer and mantra for 2017 is simple:  Do not waste time on people and things that don't matter.

In 2016, I spent too much time and money on things and people who didn't matter.  I allowed myself to become distracted by stuff that, for me and Black Man Not Blogging, didn't really matter for our happiness.  These distractions not only didn't improve the quality of our life together; they decreased it with additional and unnecessary stress.

The good news is that, for the most part, we're okay.  Yeah, Trump and his ilk really suck, but instead of a lot of hand wringing and commiserating, I'm going to do the one thing my late mother She Who  Is Exalted (SWIE) did better than anyone I know:  Play the hand you've been dealt.  My mother was a black female without a college education and with six kids, so playing the hand she was dealt was her survival skill.  Now it will be mine.

S…

Hillary Clinton Can Stop Trump -- If She Releases Her Electors

Hillary Clinton isn't going to be President of the United States.  At least not yet.  And not in 2017.

But she can possibly stop Donald Trump from being President by releasing her pledged electors  in the Electoral College to vote for a compromise Republican candidate.

This is part of the strategy of the Hamilton Electors, members of the Electoral College who see that Donald Trump is not qualified to be President.  They argue that the Electoral College's role is not to rubber-stamp the popular vote -- which, in this case, would belong to Clinton -- but to serve as a check on the popular vote to make sure that no one who is unfit assumes the office of President.

According to the Hamilton Electors, named for Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (Yes, he of the very popular musical for which I can't get tickets) Hamilton stated that the Electoral College's test for fitness to be the President was as follows (and I'm quoting):

Election of a Qualified Person: As Hamilton s…