Opting Out of Mother's Day

More so than last year, this Mother’s Day has, seemingly, been breathing down my back. My inbox has become a graveyard of unread Mother’s Day reminders, witty headlines by the likes of Banana Republic, Anthropologie, Williams-Sonoma, World Market, even you, Etsy… brilliantly, sweetly personalized messages aimed at making sure all of us buy something nice for those amazing mommas in our lives. But what about me? What about those like me? What if I am not looking for Mother’s Day gifts? What if there is no momma and I don’t feel like celebrating anyone else’s?

I thought this year would be easier. After all, last year, my first without my mom, Mother’s Day came all too quickly following her passing, less than six months too quickly, and perhaps, I was so caught up in the freshness of the grieving that the day just didn’t seem all that daunting. Somehow, the weeks that have led to this weekend have had me feeling teased, provoked, inexplicably sad. I found myself telling a friend recently as I opened up my email to more flowery Mother’s Day-themed newsletters, “Can I just opt out of Mother’s Day? I wish there was a button or something to just say ‘no, thanks’.”

But today — blame it on the sunshine or what-not — I find myself refreshingly okay with the idea of tomorrow. I think about what my mom would say if she knew how I’ve been feeling.

“Opt out of Mother’s Day?” she’d sadly exclaim. “But Vale, that’d be like opting out of Christmas. You can choose to not celebrate it, but surely, the spirit of the season lives within you, chiquitita.”

And just like that, there she is, in my head, in my thoughts, in that spirit that far transcends the length of her life. If Mother’s Day celebrates mothers, then mine is just as worthy of the celebration. After all, there is a momma in my life, and while she no longer has any use for cards or gifts, she’s worthy of a day that celebrates and honors the 29 years she so selfishly and lovingly devoted to that role. It’s that role she took on so proudly and so committedly that has so deeply marked who I am and perhaps, who I will one day be as a momma myself.

That thought scares me, but it also centers me and provides perspective. If I am ever given the blessing of being someone’s mom, I wouldn’t want to take anything away from what that celebration means to a child. As I look around and see dear friends begin to take on that role for the first time, I’m more than ever reminded that moms don’t just go away someday, nor are they defined by their biological ability to reproduce. Moms come in different forms, are always evolving, taking on new roles, and in some instances, new life, at which point they become a force so strong that no distance, space or time can keep them away from who they will always be: Mom, Momma, Mami, Mama’, Ma…

On Sunday. On every day. There they are. Ours to keep forever. How could I ever think of opting out of that?

Happy Mother’s Day, Mami.