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When Mother's Day Changed for Me


A  middle-aged Japanese woman sitting at a table with a smile and a fork to her mouth. The table is full of an array of food.
My mother was an amazing cook but didn’t want me near her kitchen. Here’s a rare time my mother let me cook for her.

I used to celebrate Mother’s Day by showering my mother with cards and gifts and taking her out to her favorite restaurant for brunch. Growing up, my mom was the quintessential and stereotypical homemaker who got up early to make my dad his lunch before he went to work and often participated in school functions when a chaperone was needed for a trip, or baked goods were needed for a party. As I grew older, she also became my closest friend. I was fortunate to have had a mother who cared for me and loved me unconditionally.


Nearly 20 years ago, my mom went into the hospital with pneumonia and never left. The day she was supposed to be discharged, her organs shut down and she died. This also happened to be the day after she sent me home to rest and to get away from the hospital, having lived there for almost three weeks. I still wonder if she knew that it was her time to go, and she didn’t want me there. My dad and I were both devastated by this unexpected loss. Our lives changed. Holidays took on whole new meanings to me, including Mother’s Day ̶̶̶̶̶ visiting her at the cemetery is not the same as going to brunch. In fact, on the first Mother’s Day, my dad and I stayed home, and I cried.


For many young women who lose their mothers, although the loss is not something that anyone can get over, holidays such as Mother’s Day often later become a day to look forward to once these motherless daughters become mothers themselves. For me, the significance of Mother’s Day changed once again when my dad was diagnosed with ALS. It’s not that he was diagnosed with ALS on this holiday, but becoming a mom and celebrating as a mother became further from my reach. I had been trying to get pregnant prior to his diagnosis, but once he was diagnosed, it was important to take care of him first.


Trying to conceive naturally and with the help of fertility treatments for over a year was frustrating and taxing on my physical and mental health. At the time my dad was diagnosed with ALS, my husband and I knew that my dad’s health had to take priority, so we decided to take a break from treatments. After my dad passed a little over a year later, we revisited the idea of having children, but when you’re in your 40s, a year is a lot of time and can make a significant difference in terms of your chances of conceiving. We looked at other options because of my advanced age but we made the decision to stop. It’s taken many years to come to terms of a life without children but now when I look back, I now know that I (and my husband) were meant to care for my dad and there was a reason why we are childless.


Going from ending my fertility treatments to being comfortable with my decision has taken a lot of work. During the time we tried to conceive and after we made the decision to stop, I dreaded Mother’s Day for a long time and could feel my anxiety creeping in as Mother’s Day approached each year. Everything pregnancy, baby-related, baby showers – were triggers. Why is it that if you can’t do something, it seems like everyone else around you can? My husband and I married at the same time as a couple of friends. They now have five kids. Go figure.


It's funny how unpredictable life is. I never imagined that I would be living a life without children and no longer in the company of my parents.


I now look at Mother’s Day as not a day of loss and sadness, but a day to be thankful for the time that I had with my mom and a time to look back on the many memories of her that I hold close to my heart. As far as me, I’ve redistributed the love for the child that never was to my immediate (cat) family – Hana, Mouse, and Tyson – oh, and my husband, too!

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Guest
May 12

Sending lots of love and hugs to you Emily!💗 Thanks so much for writing this beautiful article and sharing your experience and the experience so many of us have with Mother's Day with the world.

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Sending you love today, Emily. 💞

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