May 6, 2016

I keep plowing through life at a breakneck speed. Doing what I've always done, true to form, dancing through the day-to-day and filling my nights and weekends with social hours and extracurricular commitments... only to be left feeling a little exhausted, a little hollow, a little inept at treating my relationships and myself with the attention and reflection that I know they all warrant and need. If I end my days without the precise ratio of work success, loving on Maizie, being active, reaching out to my friends, investing in myself intellectually? I hit the pillow with a sense of defeat. And yes, I realize how utterly unrealistic this is... and yet, I can't shake the habit.

I have come to crave this time of year--the weight of winter and lingering reminders of how much loss December is tinged with is like a wet down coat I can't wait to peel away. And yet, May ushers in it its own heartsickness. My mom's birthday is May 19th, usually the week after Mother's Day... two days of my year that are undoubtedly some of the hardest of my year, every year. My Mimi and my mom both died in December, almost exactly three years apart. Mimi practically raised me and my brother when we were really tiny, and honestly, losing her was every bit as hard--if not harder--than losing my own mother. And lately, my mind has been inundated with memories of the two of them... and it's just too much to wrangle. I'm a little bit of a shell--magnified by the endless racks of pink and Mother's Day cards and email reminders from florists that DON'T FORGET: MOTHER'S DAY IS MAY 8TH! It happens every year: the month of May just knocks me off my feet.

Wednesday after work, I just wanted to be outside with my little dog. To decompress, to get away from all screens, to do something else. Mother's Day is looming, and I just wanted to think about anything else. Anything at all. Upon surviving the commute, I robotically climbed into my running shoes, grabbed my headphones and her leash, and we moseyed to the greenway. I resisted the desire to jam the earbuds into my ears and check out--and instead stayed attune to the cadence of her little paws grazing the walkway. I fixated on the cardinals that seemed to flitter alongside us (cardinals always, always remind me of my Mimi). An uncharacteristically cool 57 degrees, we got lost in the endless sprouts of clover sidelining the trail, in the tangy familiarity of dill and honeysuckle, in the damp haze of the muddy earth at our feet. The earbuds dangled from my neck, unused, as we walked along the riverbank in sweet, relative silence.

It was the exact prescription I needed for that hour--an unexpected sanctuary that I was pulled into--if for no other reason than to break out of my routine. To be surrounded by the things that remind me of home, of my family, of two of the women who were at the forefront of molding me into who I am. Between the honeysuckle and cardinals, the springtime wrapping itself around us, I skipped back home and felt almost instantly better. Like this phase of life really is part of a master plan, and you know, maybe, it's not so bad. That I don't have my mom and grandmother anymore, that the memories of them aren't enough, but that they're mine--the memories and the women. I'll always be able to recenter and realign, and ultimately, I'm not straying too much from who I am. That it's all okay, and I'll always get back to me. Just channel your inner Scarlett O'Hara and take a deep breath, Megan.

It makes logical sense to think that the older you get, the more wisdom you attain, and the more solid you feel as a human being, an individual, who you are meant to be. I'm here to tell you that in a lot of ways, I'm more lost at 30, than I was at 20--even if that sweet ignorance wasn't exactly wisdom, it was enough to make me think I had it all together. In most ways, I am loving this stage of life... it isn't dripping with the murkiness of my 20s, I'm living life in a city I truly love, surrounded by deep and meaningful friendships, making big and little plans, and I have a better grip on what I want out of my time on earth.

But the past six months have been hard.

Being single for the first time since high school--not ultimately fun. Dating? An utter joke. Reigniting the beloved relationship I spent seven years in? Challenging (but good). Being homesick, shedding bad friendships, still trudging my way through a new-ish career path, and hoping I'll end up where I want to be in this life? All so overwhelming, to put it mildly. And when my mind trails back to the fact that my mom and grandmother are dead, it's all just too much. Way too much. It's been years after they both passed away, and typing the word "dead" in the same sentence where I reference these two feisty and women is enough to take my breath away... and now, the tears won't stop.

All of that to say, I have had some magnificent women in my life. My stepmom is an exceptionally strong and kind-hearted soul, and directly responsible for my becoming a bookworm and a bargain shopper, and will always be one of the first people I'd call in a crisis--especially about dog matters or cooking. ;) She is and has always been very good to me.

But still... the hurt is still raw when I remember them for more than a passing moment. Mom and Mimi. Connie and Paullettia. I baked a hummingbird cake on Wednesday night when we returned from our walk--my Mimi made them when I was little. Last night? I watched "Pretty in Pink" as I finished a workout--my mom lived for those quintessential 80s movies, and had a Molly Ringwald thing about her. I listen to the Eagles a lot when I miss my mom. I bake or sew when I miss my Mimi. I do all of these things in a desperate attempt to keep them alive somehow, to cling to the happier memories--the tangible things that I can clutch. To keep them here with me.

Back to our Wednesday walk. Halfway through the walk, we stumbled across a shattered tree trunk--an obvious result of the earlier thunderstorm. And it was a little too proverbial: broken bits strewn across an otherwise familiar path I've been navigating time and again. I stood over the wet wood shards for a while, actually laughed to myself at the imagery, stepped over the mess in a decision to stop taking everything so seriously. To stop thinking I can handle it all, to cut myself a little more slack. Deep breath: it'll be okay. And the love and wisdom I gained from these two incredible ladies will forever live within me too.

I know there's more than a handful of "not everyone has a Mom" articles floating around the internet... but I'm tasking you with remembering those who don't have someone to buy flowers for, or who'll be sitting at a graveside, instead of a brunch table or church pew. Mother's Day is way, way tougher on me than my mom or Mimi's birthdays, or even the anniversaries of their deaths. I think the heartbreak stems from watching seemingly everyone around me--my own friends now included--on this one exclusive, springtime Sunday, dedicated to loving and adoring moms everywhere. It's really hard for a lot of people... even years after they said their goodbyes. Just please keep that in mind as you're buying the gifts and planning the surprises. it goes a long, long way with the ones who aren't hugging their moms this weekend.

And that said? Happy, happy Mother's day to everyone, near and far. Moms, stepmoms, grandmoms, godmoms and second moms, new moms, dads who play moms, dog moms, those waiting to be moms and those who want so desperately to be moms. So much love to you... momming is hard, and you deserve all of the love and affection on this Sunday, and everyday. :*

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