The Pie Baker

Fresh from the Oven

You Say It’s Your Birthday…?

As it does every few years, my birthday falls right smack in the middle of Mother’s Day this year. In years past, I remember arguing with my mother about a silly something or other I wanted to do for my birthday, while she wanted to spend her Mother’s Day relaxing at home with her little family – which included an obviously ungrateful daughter. This year, however, this day is about me….all day, for 24 hours, a day ALL ABOUT ME!

One year in particular, one I will never forget, I wanted to go out with some friends from college, but Mom wanted me to spend the day with her, having a nice meal, sharing secrets, braiding our hair, blah blah blah…. creating the kind of Hallmark card scene from the commercials that makes you cry every time you see it. Her own mother had passed away just a few months before, but being the self-involved idiot that I was, I never imagined that she felt particularly sensitive about the holiday. I stood up for myself – which, by the way, she taught me to do – and took off to spend the day with my friends. When I returned, I found a most disturbing situation. My mother, the feisty little red-headed dynamo, had disappeared. Not in an “America’s Most Wanted” manner of disappeared, but in an “I’m Pissed Off and Will Teach That Brat a Lesson” manner of disappeared. My dad was clueless, of course, as is the case of men his age. This was before the advent of cell phones, so we worried and fretted about my mother’s whereabouts for hours. When she finally arrived home later that evening, we learned where she had gone.

She drove 3 hours to another state to visit her mother’s grave. It was Mother’s Day, she said, and she wanted to honor her mother in the spirit in which the holiday was intended, by simply being her daughter and paying her respects. That birthday was a smack in the face for me. I didn’t realize until then that she was anything more than my mother; she was a daughter, too. A daughter that had lost her mother after years of failing health and an ungraceful slide into dementia. A daughter who needed to validate her own worth as a mother by spending the day with her daughter. It was a hard lesson to learn, but it impacted me for years.

On Mother’s Day in 1993, I visited my mother’s grave. It was the first Mother’s Day without her and I felt lost, confused and small. I found some measure of comfort in sitting in the grass by her headstone, telling her how much I missed her and how much I still needed her. I imagine those were the same words she spoke on that day she disappeared to a cemetery 3 hours away. My mother died quickly and unexpectedly of a heart attack just days after the beginning of the year. It had been a difficult few months following her death, and I was still very emotional. I cried that day for the child I never expected to have, for the loss of the chance to make my mom a Grandma.

Fast forward 14 years and on the day of my daughter’s birth; I had never missed my mother more. Even in the raw, emotional roller coaster of days that followed her death, I didn’t miss her as much as I did when I looked into my daughter’s eyes and wished her Grandma was here to hold her.

Although my daughter is 2 years old, it is just this year that I am starting to realize what it really means to be a mother and what Mother’s Day is all about. My first Mother’s Day as a mom, the Pie was just a couple of weeks old. The adorable wriggling mound of flesh really was the best gift ever, but I was still sleep-deprived and couldn’t fully appreciate her magnificence at the time. In the ensuing years, she has developed a remarkably sparkling personality and keen sense of humor. I often wonder what kind of bond she would have with my mother and I know that she would be spoiled rotten to the core! If anyone reading this has ever met my mother, you KNOW I tell the truth! I tell the Pie about her Grandma that lives in Heaven, how she loved little girls and how she taught me to be a lady – sometimes against my will – and how she made certain I wanted for nothing. I promise to my daughter that I will try with every fiber of my being to be half the mother to her that my mom was to me. And although we will all be together in Heaven someday, for now we just visit at the cemetery.

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May 6, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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