Mother’s Day is an interesting time for me. I don’t get sadder than usual about missing my mom…the only time that is harder than other times is on the anniversary of her passing. Other than that, it’s hard to give weight to certain holidays, because I don’t feel like they’re any different than any other day of the year. I miss her all the time, but the emotions associated with wishing she was still here spike randomly– like when I’m picking out a Lean Cuisine in the grocery store, or when I am trying to move heavy furniture.

It’d be way easier if I knew my emotions would spike on holidays or her birthday, because then I’d be able to prepare. Unfortunately, that’s just not how it works…which is why I felt comfortable getting married the day after her birthday, and acknowledging the significance of that date at our rehearsal dinner. I mean, I obviously cried, but birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc. aren’t triggers in and of themselves (for me, at least).

What makes Mother’s Day an interesting time for me (in a good way) is other people’s concern about how I’m feeling, as well as trying to find something to do (if I’m not near my stepmom to celebrate with her). This year, I’ll be eating dinner with a girlfriend who lives far away from her parents, but it took me awhile to find someone available. That felt a little weird and sad, but all in all, I’m pretty stable.

Before saying anything else, I do want to acknowledge my mother and the 26/24 years she showered my brother and me with unconditional love, constantly teaching us how to live better lives through lessons like keeping a non-judgemental or condemning view of faith, remembering to never feed bitterness, turning to exercise or productive forms of stress relief, and always pushing ourselves to cultivate potential and choose happiness. I love and miss you every single day, Mom.

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Despite my feelings of stability in the approach of Mother’s Day, I’m still deeply grateful for the love and support from friends who reach out to make sure I’m okay. A friend of mine planned a girls night for this Monday, the day after Mother’s Day, with old friends from all over the state (and some from outside of Virginia), all of whom are driving to her house just so we can spend time together. She put the whole thing together in order to make me feel loved while Aaron is gone, and in wake of Mother’s Day. Talk about having extraordinary friends in your life.

I’ve mentioned before that I am inspired to be better at encouraging others in response to the way I’m shown love, and I want to expand on that notion a little bit more.

Last week, I visited my best friend from college. She lives in Durham, North Carolina with her 7-month-old baby and husband. She just finished 5 years of pharmacy school, officially earning her doctorate and graduating summa cum laude…WHILE being pregnant and having a baby during her final year. Who does that??

Anyway, as we were talking, this brilliant mama told me how badly she wishes she could still take road trips to visit friends, because a newborn makes that pretty impossible. She still finds ways to remain close to friends, and is among my many mom-friends who all do an extraordinary job putting forth effort in their friendships, but a lightbulb really came on in my head when she expressed her wish to be able to pick up and go. Just like people go out of their way to make me happy during potentially lonely or difficult times, I need to think of all the ways the people I love could be experiencing the same need for support…like new moms who I can drive to see since they can’t do the same, and probably need some good adult time in their lives.

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Along the baby mama lines, I had another girlfriend comment on the post I wrote last week about being a “favor friend,” and said that she wishes she still had the capability to spontaneously go help a friend in need. But it’s hard to do that with a little person attached to you at all time. That hit me, too, as a perspective I hadn’t given much though to before. How easily our own world can blind us to the realities of others.

Moms who can’t always seek out encouragement, or give encouragement, in the way they used to is just one example of a struggle deserving more of my sensitivity. I have always tried to visit friends with kids since I know their lives are way more constrained than my own, but I haven’t necessarily considered their limitations or hardships to the extent that my friends have considered mine.

Spending time with my friend and her [gorgeous] daughter in North Carolina, and soaking in the thoughtful, forward-thinking encouragement from my girlfriend who planned the post-Mother’s Day/deployment girls night, has really shed light on how much more I can do to consider the needs of others.

I hope that this Mother’s Day can be a wonderful reminder for all of us to consider the perspectives and needs of people we love (or maybe even people we barely know!)…and it doesn’t have to revolve around current moms or the loss of moms. We don’t need a big holiday to think of ways day-to-day lives may be in need of some love or consolation.

Happy Early Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!