When Mother’s Day Goes From Schmaltzy to Sad

When Mother’s Day Goes From Schmaltzy to Sad

When Mother’s Day Goes From Schmaltzy to Sad

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
May 8 2009 5:16 PM

When Mother’s Day Goes From Schmaltzy to Sad

Bonnie , Jess, I confess I haven't been able to read Jess's piece about talking to her mom yet; I started to, and it brought tears to my eyes. Like Jess, I used to talk to my mom all the time, about matters large and small. (Should I refrigerate peanut butter? Should I take that job? Who are you voting for?) But my mother passed away on Christmas Day of 2008. And so I can't talk to her. I didn't think that Mother's Day was going to hit home at all, because my mother, a wry pragmatist, considered it a fake holiday. In her view, it was more about Hallmark than her. Still, we often gave her flowers, or, in the past few years, when she was sick, made a point of seeing her. One reason that Mother's Day is hard, though, is that I see all these other daughters talking about their mothers. The hardest part about losing her are times when I realize that the unique mother-daughter relationship is one I will never again experience-not as a daughter, at least. And frankly, the idea of having children without her around to impart her wisdom makes the whole enterprise seem a lot less appealing. I'm sure that will change over time, but the pain won't. In fact, there's a moving piece about this over on the New York Times parenting blog . So this Mother's Day, I will be thinking most about daughters and sons; the motherless ones.

Meghan O'Rourke is Slate’s culture critic and an advisory editor. She was previously an editor at the New Yorker. The Long Goodbye, a memoir about her mother’s death, is now out in paperback.