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My mother, Carole, and grandmother, Edith, circa 1975.

Mother’s Day has carried a bit of a sad charge for me for almost 30 years.

The first one after my mom died was the worst. Surrounded by media injunctions to “Make It Great for Mom” – but no mom to call, no flowers to feel guilty about not sending, no card mailed out just a few days too late.

In fact, nothing really to celebrate.

The next year was better. Holding my 5-month daughter in my arms I basked in the good wishes showered on me by my partner, my sisters, my friends. Spring flowers bloomed in the first garden I’d ever helped plant, and fragrant masses of stock and snapdragons spilled out of mason jars in the kitchen.

So it went, year after year…celebrating my own motherhood. Making sure this was a day that I didn’t touch a broom, scrub a diaper, or swab out a sink. Sipping mimosas during brunch. Enjoying the guilt-free opportunity to actually stretch out on a Sunday afternoon in a lounge chair and soak up some rare Humboldt sun.

Holding baby Ciel sometime around her first Mother's Day

And, as the years passed many other mothers to celebrate with, to call, to send cards to.

But, always underneath it, that sadness.

This year, in our clean kitchen, while the soaring notes of a daughter practicing her singing noticeably did not reverberate from rear of the house, the sadness ballooned out a little larger than before. There were no miscellaneous school forms strewn about to distract me. No coupon books and handmade cards presented  sheepishly as morning slid into afternoon. No reason to sigh at  jackets once again carelessly draped over the dining room chairs.

It was my first Mother’s Day in an empty nest.

They both called me – and fairly early in the day too. I tried to sound bubbly and upbeat. I tried to BE bubbly and upbeat. After all, this was still my day. Once a mom, forever a mom, and I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity for a day of relaxation every single year.

After the phone call I wandered out to the lounge chair. Sleep ever being my favorite soother of depression, I dropped off into a much deeper sleep than the intended snooze. Woke up with an imprint of the moon white on my chest, which burned warm from too much sun.

I’d slept so long the crescent moon pendant I wear had marked off my sunburn. Seems like there must be some kind of symbolism there.

So – entering into a new cycle, I wish all mothers of every age and phase a happy Mother’s Day. But most of all, a salute to my own mom, Mary Carole, who didn’t get enough time here on the planet. Happy Mother’s Day Mommy!