Mother’s day is hard

Though it’s been more than a decade since my mother got in her car and never came home, I still don’t think I’ve “recovered”.

Mother’s Day is hard.

Though it’s been more than a decade since my mother got in her car and never came home, I still don’t think I’ve “recovered”. Some of that is probably due to the way she died (car accident) and the complexities of the shit storm her death precipitated - a bunch of legal cases, big decisions to be made about where her children would live and who would care to them, how to manage for money after her bank accounts were frozen etc etc etc. It was deeply traumatising. 

Obviously, my life is very different now. If she saw me now, she might not recognise me. I think about her all the time. She comes up in therapy a lot, in the parts of my life that overlap or radically diverge from hers.

I still have some of her things. I remember opening a John O’Donoghue book on the page she’d placed her bookmark a decade before and feeling her presence rise from the pages. I remember biting into a currant in the kitchen while shuffling around wiping counters and rinsing plastics before putting them in the bin. The sharp, narrow tang transported me back to the first time I had currants probably as a toddler. I imagine she left a small handful of them on my plastic plate at breakfast time. Marian was on the radio. The kitchen smelt like turf.  I guard the few items of clothes she saw me wear closely - they’re worn and hole-y but precious to me. 

I feel her presence in my habits too; like tying my shoelaces, my fingers making those habitual swoops. She taught me that like she taught me almost everything. She was suggested to me as a “potential contact” on LinkedIn once. Numb. I wondered when her number stopped being on my phone. (It’s still there.) 

Grief is sly and non-linear. Even today, it sneaks up on me in strange ways. I miss her desperately. I sometimes feel that deep, primal urge to scream for her; a biologically wired longing for this person I adored and worshipped who loved me too. (This is where I start tearing up on the bus as I write.)

What to do with Mother’s Day is always a question. I typically ignore it as if it were a religious holiday I don’t celebrate. I know when it’s Eid or Hanukkah or Chinese New Year. These holidays are important to lots of people but have nothing to do with me. 

If you find Mother’s Day difficult or complicated, I hope you know that you’re not the only one. There are vast swathes of people whose mothers are dead or unavailable to them through addiction or illness or other cruelties of life. There’s a whole bunch of people who find this day upsetting, wince-inducing or exhausting. If that’s you, I hope you get to talk about it with someone you love. I hope that you’ll be extra kind to yourself today and every day because motherless life is really fucking difficult. 

Clare x

P.S. I compiled a list of resources that have helped me deal with grief too.


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