Just One More Day

You know how when you have to have surgery and you have those instructions that say that you can’t have anything by mouth after midnight. A guideline, of course, that on any other night of your life would be no big deal, because you would be sleeping anyway, but once it becomes a rule you have to follow, it means you will be so thirsty that all you want, all night long, is another sip of water. And even if you drank at 11:59pm, you’d feel at 12:01am like you have been walking through a desert for hours and the only thing you can think about is how much you’d give anything to have a single. sip. of. water.

That is how I feel lately about my mom.

When my mom was alive, I dreaded the obligation of calling or going to see her. I would complain endlessly before and after most phone calls and visits, and when I wasn’t complaining about them, I was breathing a sigh of relief that they were over, knowing that I was able to put off another one for another few days or a week if I could get away with it.

But then came Mother’s Day, and so I was of course surrounded by all the Hallmark reminders of mothers. And because I am a mother, this holiday obviously has special meaning for me, and I think that was why I felt so guilty about being so bittersweet about it this year. After all, I spent the day with my beautiful children, and I didn’t have to think about heading to a nursing home where I don’t want to be to exchange gifts and platitudes with a woman who for the last several years of her life struggled to deserve them from me.

And that is just it, y’all. I didn’t have to. But in the days preceding Mother’s Day, I wanted to. I wanted one more phone call, one more visit, one more chance to tell her the latest funny Abby story or something amazing Emma had learned in school. I wanted to talk about the royal wedding and the fact that we finally got Bin Laden. Yet, I don’t want anything else that would come along with it, none of the complications, none of the obvious denial on her part about her true condition and the clear choices she made to allow herself to get to where she was. So … I want what I can’t have.

In the end, I feel like this is what actually makes me a mother. When we are with our children, all we want is peace and quiet and a break. When they are away from us, all we want is to see them and hear their voices and feel their sweet kisses and hugs. When they are little, we just want to sleep, please for the love of God, just sleep. And then suddenly, they are growing up and we are sleeping and yet we find ourselves missing those middle-of-the-night moments when all of the world around us was quiet and still, and we got to experience the pure bliss that comes with a baby in our arms, snuggled up, simply needing us to be there. We wish the time away and then cry because we can’t get it back again. So often, on so many days, we want what we can’t have.


Charity Lemonade Stand, Mother’s Day 2011


Just One More Day — 58 Comments

  1. For all of the times that I stressed out trying to find a last minute sitter for Josh so I could rush mom to the doctor or in for a CT scan or labs. All the times I complained because of the impact that her cancer had on my life. The arguments we had because she was sick and exhausted and I was stressed and exhausted and pulled in 100 different directions trying to please everyone, but feeling like I was pleasing no one. Curling up next to her as she gradually, but oh too quickly, faded away. I would live through it all again if it meant I could hold her sweet hands one more time. Kiss her soft, soft cheeks one more time. In a million years, I would have never have guessed how deeply I would grieve her death. How on my second Mother’s Day without her, I would shed as many tears as I did the day she left us. I really, really miss my mama.

    Hugs to you, dear friend on your second Mother’s Day without yours. Thanks again for putting into words exactly how I feel.

    Just one more sip. I’d really give just about anything.

  2. This was a terrific post. I struggle with my own mother-daughter relationship. It’s just hard. It’s hard wanting something you can’t have. For me, that something is still alive, healthy, and yet, I can’t ever seem to get the one thing I want most… acceptance, acknowledgement for accomplishments… the words, “I love you.” Answer this one… when does the child within us stop trying to heal their wounds? I’d like to know. I guess the silver lining is that gaping mother-shaped wounds make for excellent writers.

    • I think the answer sadly is never. 🙁 I think we always struggle with wanting approval and acceptance from our parents, especially our mothers. Thank you for this honest comment, I really appreciate it.

  3. This is so true. It made me choke up because time moves so fast and it seems like we’re always wishing for the next milestone, and then suddenly every wish has been granted and all we want us to do it all over again!

  4. Gosh, this is so sad, but I kind of know what you mean. I’ll avoid my mom’s phone calls sometimes and think to myself “Stop it. You’re going to miss it when she’s not around to call anymore”

  5. I’m feeling this very acutely right now — my mom is visiting to help me while my hubby is out of town. I’m thankful for the help, but at the same time, she’s making me nuts!

  6. I can remember, vividly, standing in my bedroom closet after getting in trouble from my father and wishing that he would die. Just being a normal, dumb kid. He was a great dad, I just hated being in trouble. Then, when I was seventeen, he DID die. My life has never been the same, and I’d give anything for “one more day.”

    • Oh Travis. I totally understand. I thought it many times. Not even as a child. I am sorry about your dad. 🙁

  7. I could have written this post – from the dread, to the nursing home visits to the wanting my mother back but with none of the stuff that truly WAS my mother at the end… Big hugs to you. Great post.

  8. I think you hit the nail on the head: I can’t wait for those of my children who should have launched by now to do so, and at the same time, I’m can’t wait until those who are on their own to already to come home for a visit.

    • Thank you Dawn. It is not easy to talk about, but it is real, and I want anyone else who may have those feelings to know they are not alone.

    • Oh Michelle, thank you. As someone who admires your writing, this is an amazing comment to receive. 🙂

  9. Ashley, I’m so glad you linked this one up about your mom. You convey so much about your relationship in so few words, and I love the creative analogy you make with the ‘nothing by mouth’ direction. Why do we always want what we cannot have?

    • Thank you my friend. I will write more about her soon…might use some more words next time! 😉 And I don’t know the answer to your question, but I really wish I did.

  10. I needed this. In the throes of raising children it’s hard to have the proper perspective. I love them to pieces. It’s time I started wishing they were older or younger and enjoy where they are right now. Great post.

  11. IT’s so true. I am out and about, and I want to give my kids a big hug. When they are home and want to hug me, I want space. It’s so true. YOu captured this so well. Your description of your mom trying to “deserve” your love is expert. Loved it!

  12. Such a beautiful, touching post. I am really close to my mom – we talk every day – and also, she drives me crazy sometimes. And I’m a mom to a 5-year-old daughter who I am sure I also drive crazy. I want desperately for time to slow down – I think you are so right – we want what we can’t have. I am trying daily to appreciate what I DO have. Thank you.

    • Yes, I have no doubt that I, too drive my girls crazy. Mostly because they are not afraid to tell me! 😉
      Thank you for this comment.

  13. I used shrug off my mom until she had cancer. Luckily, she beat it and it was what I needed to keep things in perspective. I know we’re on borrowed time now and I try my best to do everything I can with her. The mother-daughter relationship is a tricky one!
    Wonderful post!

    • I am so glad you have this time with your mom, and you are taking full advantage of it. Thank you for sharing this, it made me smile. 🙂

  14. My mom passed unexpectedly when I was 10, so I didn’t get to the age where we really had that tension, but I definitely relate to navigating the bittersweetness of Mother’s Day, of feeling confused about how to relate to her now that I am an adult, how my motherhood is affected by her life and her death. It’s helpful to read that others are going through that journey as well. Thank you.

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