Mother’s Day has been hard since my mom’s passing, but now I finally have reasons to celebrate

When my mom died, I couldn’t imagine celebrating Mother’s Day again. I knew I’d probably have kids someday, because that has always been a part of my plan. But my mom died when I was 11, and the thought of having kids seemed so far away.

Since her passing, I’ve spent every Mother’s Day honoring my mom, who I usually called Mama Chicken (she called me Baby Chicken or Little Chicken; I never questioned where this odd nickname originated). I put on some Elvis Presley, dress up in as much purple as possible, and have a cup of coffee in her name (even though what counts as passable coffee for me in no way resembles actual coffee). I didn’t inherit my mom’s Lorelai Gilmore-like coffee addiction, but I like having an occasional cuppa in memory of the wooden “Don’t talk to me until I’m had my morning coffee!” sign that hung in our kitchen when I was a kid.

My Mother’s Day routines are a little sad, and I usually wind up writing my mom a letter — often sending it off into the sky, tied to a balloon.

One year, I set off Japanese lanterns that I’d purchased on eBay after it got dark.

holding hands

This year is different for a few reasons.

I’m graduating on Mother’s Day with my master’s degree, and I finally have two close friends who are expecting children.

Although neither of them will be parents before May 14th, both are due earlier in the summer, June and July respectively. This year is filled with the anticipation of their pregnancies, and next year, they’ll be spending Mother’s Day as moms for the first time.

Jessica, one of the two expectant mothers, is a lifelong friend who I met in elementary school. She knew my mom before she died.

While it feels a little bittersweet that one of my best childhood friends is having a baby and my mom won’t be here to see it, I’m excited that I finally have a reason to enjoy Mother’s Day again.

Jessica and I don’t see each other as much as we used to since she moved out-of-state, but I’ve known her since she was 5 years old — and I’m incredibly proud of her. She’s going to be a terrific mom, just like her mom and mine were.

Once, when Jess and I were kids, she was grounded for a few weeks. She only lived a few houses away from me, so I stood outside her window. We yelled to each other, tossing candy through her window so we could share. When my mom found out I was talking to Jessica despite her grounding, she told me to stop; it was Jess’s parents’ decision to punish her — I needed to respect that.

But my mom also told me that she loved seeing how close we were, and told me to always be a loyal friend to the people I care about. If she were here to watch Jessica welcome her child into the world, she’d be just as proud as I am.

Casey, the other expectant mother, never got to know my mom, but she came into my life shortly after she died. She was really there for me during a difficult period in my life, and we became close even though she lived in North Carolina and I live in Massachusetts. We talked on the phone; we’d send MySpace messages, letters, holiday packages, and instant messages to each other. Last April, she visited me in Boston, and we talked about our hopes to have children in the future. I know how ecstatic she and her husband are to add another member to their family.


In the past, I’ve tried getting excited to celebrate Mother’s Day for the other mom-like figures in my life — my grandmother, my aunts, my partner’s mom. Somehow, it always feels as though I’m trying to replace my mom. This year, I don’t feel that way.

Instead of comparing myself to my peers whose mothers are still alive, I’m buying presents for babies I can’t wait to meet.

It will probably be a few more years until I’m a mom, and I anticipate my first Mother’s Day as a parent will be difficult since my mom won’t be there to see it.

For that reason, I’m glad I have a few years to celebrate my friends becoming moms, and watch them become the fantastic parents I know they will be.

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