WHEN MOTHER'S DAY IS BITTERSWEET

This is that time of year when you start seeing gift guides, advertisements and marketing aimed at Mother’s Day. And I know I can’t be the one who cringes every time they come across one of these ad campaigns or the drugstore greeting card section.

If you've been partly dreading this weekend and holiday, please know that it's okay. Personally, I'm struggling with the fact that I should be thrilled that it's my first Mother's Day as a mom, and yet... I'm so deeply saddened that it's also my first Mother's Day without both my mom and my nana. So many firsts...and lots of conflicting emotions.

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My mom loved Mother’s Day. She loved any excuse to celebrate anything! The last Mother’s Day we spent together was before she was sick and it was my favorite of all. I cooked a big brunch for her, my dad and Perri. She was so happy and complimentary and we had the best time. That memory warms my heart this time of year.

After my mom passed away, I was even more grateful for and dependent on the relationship I had with my Nana. I couldn't believe how ironic it all was - I stayed up in bed so many nights wondering and praying that Nana would live to see me get married, and in the end, it was my mom who died first. 

This Sunday is also a tough reminder that Mother’s Day last year was the last time I saw Nana. She was already sick and in pretty bad shape, and it was a really, really hard weekend for all of us.

When I found out I was pregnant in July, I decided to give Nana the good news in person, in September when we planned to visit for the Jewish holidays. I knew she was sick and her memory was going, but I couldn't wait to see the look on her face when I told her she was going to have another great-grandchild. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse pretty quickly and she died on August 4th. I was 8 weeks pregnant. I never got to tell her.

In the days after I had Ari, it hit me like a ton of bricks that this is going to be my first Mother’s Day without my mom or my nana. Before the baby was born I told Ben that we could host a Mother’s Day brunch at our house for both of our families. But in those first few weeks postpartum, I felt like I had a dark cloud over me. I told him we needed to cancel the brunch because I couldn't handle it. I didn’t want to celebrate. It was just too hard.

Around the time Ari turned a month old, the clouds separated and I started to see glimpses of sunlight again. I gave it some thought and realized I was being horribly selfish and that I wasn’t being fair to Ari, to Ben, or to either of our families. This is also Perri's first year without a mother figure in her life on Mother's Day, not to mention my dad's first Mother's Day without his own mom. 

Something I've thought about since having Ari is that no one comes by motherhood easily. Whether you gave birth, adopted, are a stepmother, etc. - the truth is that some may call it a silly Hallmark holiday but I truly believe that all mother figures deserve this day to be celebrated.

At the same time, many of us are suffering. Maybe you're like me - a daughter who can't be with your mom. Maybe you're a mother who can't be with your child. Maybe you're struggling to become a mother and the last thing you need or want is another reminder.

If Mother's Day this year is tough for you too, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances may be, know that you're not alone and I'm sending you love. 

After my mom died, I made a list of the lessons she taught me. I want to share five of my favorite with you:

1. Surround yourself with things you love to look at. 

2. Be your own best advocate - never expect or depend on anyone else to.

3. Be tough, but not unreasonable. 

4. Less is more with criticism and perfume, but never with jewelry. 

5. Don't sweat the small stuff.