I used to love May. It meant the school year was almost over, the days were still getting longer, the weather was (usually) getting warmer, and it meant I could plan a fun Mother’s Day gift for my mum. I love shopping for just the right gift for a person and mum was no exception. I would stand in the card store and read all the cards and pick out exactly the right one, find or make a gift, and then wait eagerly for Mother’s Day to arrive so I could give it to her. When mum died a year and a half ago, I knew Christmas and her Birthday would be hard, but I didn’t think about the hardest month – aka the one before Mother’s Day. This will be my second Mother’s Day without mum and though dad and I have settled into what I like to call a “new normal”, Mother’s Day is harder this year than last year. Last year it had only been 6 months since mum died – I was still in shock, it didn’t feel real yet. The Mother’s Day ads didn’t bring the same gut punch that they have this year.
It started right after Easter – the messages in my inbox took on a decidedly maternal tone. E-mail after e-mail encouraged to get a head start on finding the perfect gift for my mum. It seems like Mother’s Day has become an all-encompassing holiday. Every company has an angle on the day and how to make it special using their products. I get it. Nobody wants to be the jerk who doesn’t get their mom something for Mother’s Day. For those of us still actively grieving, however, these emails are another reminder of what we have lost.
The television and radio ads – for diamonds, for florists, for dinners out are relentless. I’m sure my listening preferences have something to do with it – I favour sports talk or classic rock radio stations. I’m barely in their demographics so I hear a lot of ads that are completely meaningless to me (the weight loss for men clinic ads come to mind here). I know that a study in the May 2013 Reader’s Digest shows that men spend more than women on Mother’s Day gifts, so by listening to radio stations that are geared towards men, I’m going to hear more reminders of Mother’s Day. But every commercial break? It’s made me listen to CDs instead of the radio in the car and PVR TV shows so I can scan through the commercials.
Then there are the flyers. Even Home Hardware has a Mother’s Day theme to their ads. Canadian Tire, as always, has an entire flyer dedicated to Mother’s Day (but curiously focused one the kitchenware and garden department instead of the hardware or sports departments – I know I’d rather have a drill than another frying pan!). Even the grocery stores are all about Mother’s Day – both in store and in their flyers.
Yesterday I went into town to do some volunteering – which usually lifts my mood. The place where I volunteer is also the place mum volunteered so there are a lot of memories associated with it. Normally, I take comfort in those memories and enjoy helping my community in the same place mum did. Yesterday, not so much. A customer came up to me and started talking about mum, which usually makes me smile but she just kept going on and on and it made me miss her even more. I excused myself at the first opportunity and went into the back and had a good cry. The signs by the roadside on the way home advertising flowers, chocolates, dinner, and brunch for Mother’s Day didn’t help me forget the awkward encounter either.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have all been filled with photos and statuses about Mother’s Day – be it wish lists, not so subtle hints, or sponsored ads from companies who are trying to sell Mother’s Day “experiences” or gifts. Each one I see is a reminder that I no longer have someone to buy a gift for, or someone to call and talk to. I lost track of how many times I’ve shut down a social app this week and been crying. It’s not that I begrudge my friends their happiness with their mothers, it’s that it makes me miss mine so much more.
The good news is that Mother’s Day fades into oblivion quickly. One more week and it’s gone. I’m in a position that many of my friends who have lost their mothers are not in. I’m not a mother, so I’m not looking forward to what my kids are doing that day. There really is no upside to Mother’s Day for me. Last year I tried to remember all the good times, but it’s too soon for that right now. Rather than being comforting, those memories are making me feel the loss even more acutely. So for the next week, I’m limiting my time on social media and batch deleting emails about Mother’s Day. I’m planning a day with my dad, tending to the gardens she enjoyed so much, and trying to move on as best I can with a mum shaped hole in my heart.