My sweetest and most painful Mother’s Day was our family’s first Mother’s Day as a single-parent family. As a new single mom, Mother’s Day was painful. The pastor’s sermon never talked about moms, but their husbands. I didn’t waste any time “educating” my pastor. Families congregated to take their mom’s to restaurants for dinner, as Kristoffer, Kyle, and I left church. I wasn’t sure if the boys noticed, but the other families’ joyous celebration inflicted pain so excruciating that I could hardly breathe.
I planned to drive through a fast food restaurant for Mother’s Day and had to figure out how to stretch $7 in my purse, every penny to my name, to treat my tiny family. As we pulled out of the church parking lot, four-year-old Kristoffer said, “I wanted to buy you pretty flowers, mom.” His sweet heart melted mine. A man standing on the corner sold Mother’s Day flowers. I handed Kristoffer $5 to buy the flowers, then gushed over the beautiful flowers Kristoffer chose. The remaining $2 bought a large French fry for the boys to share. I drove home with an empty stomach and full heart.
I’m trying to remember my first Mother’s Day after Kristoffer was killed, but right now the memory escapes me, like so many other memories of that first year. For many, Mother’s Day is not always a day of celebration, but a day of mourning. Children scarred by relationships with their mothers also struggle on Mother’s Day, wishing their mom reflected the Hallmark card ideal.
This is my seventh Mother’s Day without my firstborn and the emotional pain dragged me down until two Rangers made this Mother’s Day wonderful. One Ranger posted a picture of Kristoffer on Facebook that I’d never seen, then emailed me other pictures that I cherish. Another Ranger, out of the blue, messaged me on LinkedIn. I sent him my email address and he emailed me stories about my son and that he’d named his beautiful adopted son Kristoffer. I’m totally undone by their thoughtfulness. At Kristoffer’s military funeral, these words popped out of my mouth as I passed three rows of Rangers standing at attention, “You’re all my sons.” And yes, I do feel that way. I love you, all of you who served with my son. All of those involved in trying to save Kristoffer’s life on that fateful night. All of those brave warriors who understand and mourn their own losses. I love you.
Today I recall precious memories of Kristoffer. I’m also a thankful mom and grandmother today—I’m blessed with two wonderful sons, a wonderful daughter-in-love and son-in-love, five grandmunckins, and high hopes for my hija enamorada, no pressure to my younger son, Kyle. I offer this poem to all mom who are blessed or mourning on this special day that honors the day we gave our children life.
To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you.
To those who lost a child this year—we mourn with you.
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains—we appreciate you.
To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you.
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment—we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms—thank you, we need you.
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children—we celebrate with you.
To those who have disappointment, heartache, and distance with your children—we sit with you.
To those who lost their mothers this year—we grieve with you.
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother—we acknowledge your painful experience.
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood—we are better for having you in our midst.
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children— we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be.
To those who step parent—we walk with you on these complex paths.
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren—yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you.
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year—we grieve and rejoice with you.
To those who placed children up for adoption—we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart.
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising—we anticipate with you.
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.