Mother’s Day weekend will forever be complicated for me. Because none of us who are mothers are only just mothers – we are daughters, too, I have this strange caught-in-the-middle feeling of being pushed and pulled. But beyond that, it was Mother’s Day weekend when my father died in my arms 14 years ago, and as much as I’d like to think that those kind of anniversaries become less of a focus over time, I haven’t found that to be true.

Every year in the last days before the deathaversary, I start to get teary and emotional. I feel shaky in my body and achy and a little “off,” and it usually takes me a lot of introspection and “what the fuck is with me?” to figure it out. I don’t know how my body knows, but it does. To be honest, I don’t even really remember thinking that it was Mother’s Day weekend when I was holding Dad and rocking him and whispering to him that it was ok to leave if he needed to. But given that the last few hours I spent with him are among some of the most crystal clear memories I carry, it’s not surprising that I feel it so viscerally over and over again every year.

I moved to a new town a year ago, and Mother’s Day weekend was the first weekend I spent in my new home – the only  home I’ve ever lived in alone, without kids or a partner. Last year was also the first Mother’s Day weekend after my mom died. This morning, I leashed the dogs and put them in the car for the four mile drive to Bishop Diego Garcia High School – the Catholic high school my mom and her siblings attended. I’d never been there before, and while my mom and I didn’t ever talk about her time growing up here, I knew this was one place where she spent a great deal of time. I was amazed at how small the school is and really struck by how lovely the grounds are. It was almost exactly what I expected a Catholic high school to look like in this town, in some ways, and as soon as the dogs and I stepped on to the path that meanders through campus, I felt her. I hope she was happy here. I hope she had fond memories.

I’ll spend my afternoon hiking in the hills above town, thinking about my parents and how much I miss them, feeling grateful that I am mother to my amazing kids, and honoring the work of mothering in all its forms. I am increasingly enamored of the idea that I can create nests for beloveds as part of the continued mothering I want to and will do. I love the notion that nests are created from whatever materials are available in the immediate area and are designed to be safe and comfortable, often in precarious places. They don’t have to be pretty. That’s not the point.

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