This past Mother’s Day was one of the most painful times I’ve ever gone through. I wasn’t prepared for the emotion I would endure. My mother died 10 months ago. She was in her 80s. This was my first Mother’s Day without her.
I have two kids, both in their 30s, with complicated families of their own. They both called to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. They both wrote nice things about me on Facebook. My husband asked if I’d mind if he golfed on Mother’s Day and I said, “Of course not. Go enjoy!”
I don’t know why I felt too ashamed or weak to ask my family for support on this day. To be honest, I didn’t realize I’d need it. The result: I was alone, in pain and blubbering all through Mother’s Day.
With Father’s Day around the corner, I wanted to share this in case there are others that may need a little love to get through this day.
Not as Strong as I Thought
Dear Not as Strong as I Thought,
Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate, acknowledge and remember mothers. Sounds simple, but it can be very traumatic, especially the first one after losing your own mother. They say time heals all wounds, and yes, that’s true to a degree. However, when you have just lost your mother, Mother’s Day is like ripping a healing scab off a wound.
Social media shows photos of happy families at restaurants, a bouquet of roses and multi-generational photos of mom or grandmothers with their offspring. But for every happy greeting, there are those moms, daughters, sisters, aunts and friends like you who wish they could just sleep through the day.
There are women who are estranged, women who long to have a child, women who sit by their sick child’s bedside, women who gave up their child for adoption or grieve the death of a child or, like you, a mother. The list is long.
No one says Mother’s Day has to be happy. For many, it isn’t. However, it is a time for reflection, respect, love and healing. It’s a time to celebrate and acknowledge the nurturing person you are. Whether you are a mother or daughter, this is a day to recognize your worth. There is no shame in asking for help. It’s not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it’s a sign of confidence, self-awareness and strength.
I’ve been widowed for over 10 years and this problem comes up over and over: what is my share of payment when I contribute to a birthday gift or a shivah meal. What is the right amount for me to pay when I go to a wedding or other simcha? What about when we plan a dinner party and everyone contributes?
Most of my friends are couples that my husband and I had from when we were married. I think many still see me as a couple. For example, four families contributed to a shivah meal last week. I paid one quarter, even though I’m one person, while the other families also paid one quarter each, and some had four or five people in their family.
My dilemma is not so much the money as knowing what the right thing to do is.
Paying Fair Share
Dear Paying Fair Share,
Common sense plays a role when giving your fair share. For a monetary wedding gift, you should give as a single person. There’s no need to give as a couple unless you bring someone with you.
If you are going in on a gift for an engagement, for example, again, you should give as a single person. A good rule is to divide the total by the number of names on the card and that’s your share.
Shivah meals can be a bit different. Again, if it’s couples, then you give your share as a single. However, if it’s families, then you may want to consider splitting the bill evenly. Go with what you feel is right. Sometimes you have to bend a little.