Melancholy on Mother’s Day

Chelle and Dorie visit with their soldier in the fall of 2012 during Family Day at Fort Stewart. photo by Stanley Leary

Chelle and Dorie visit with their soldier in the fall of 2012 during Family Day at Fort Stewart.
photo by Stanley Leary

Today is my first Mother’s Day as the mom of a deployed soldier. I have to admit that Mother’s day has never been a favorite holiday of mine. My own mother died when I was pregnant with my first child. When I was struggling one Mother’s Day a friend pointed out, “Mother’s Day is a tough day for mothers who have lost their mothers.”

So this day reminds me of who is not here as much as it reminds me of my own motherhood. I love my children and am grateful for the tokens of their love each year. But as hard as I try to stay with the here and now, I am reminded of who is not here with us. This year it is my first-born child.

I haven’t heard from him in days. On Facebook I see photos of flower arrangements sent to other moms from their deployed children, and read of messages sent and Skype calls made. My expectations of hearing from my son are very low.

This past week I was asked to contribute some tips for Mother’s Day to the military blog, Off the Base, a project of Bobbie O’Brien of WUSF. Bobbie also interviewed me this week for a Mother’s Day piece that aired on WUSF this past Friday. The interview went well until I was asked about what I do for Mother’s Day. For several years now I have not seen my oldest son on Mother’s Day. I do, however, have a few phone messages I have kept from previous Mother’s Day calls from my oldest son. I never do know when I’ll hear from him. I keep the messages just so I can hear his voice once in a while. As I told Bobbie about these messages I choked up a bit.

So today is another day of mixed emotions. My husband and my two children took me to enjoy a nice Mother’s Day brunch at my favorite restaurant in town, Adele’s. This afternoon we will listen to my daughter play with her middle school orchestra at an art festival in town. The evening will be used to prepare for the week ahead.

It’s early afternoon here and night-time in Afghanistan. No word from my deployed son.

My daughter told me I had to wear this cape to her orchestra performance today. It did lighten the mood a bit.

My daughter told me I had to wear this cape to her orchestra performance today. It did lighten the mood a bit.

FOOTNOTE: I wrote this entry before the concert at the arts festival in town. During the concert I was showing my Army ACU purse to two children sitting next to me. I then looked at my phone to check Facebook messages. There was a note from my deployed son! As I was talking about him, he was writing to me. It made my afternoon. He said Happy Mother’s Day then told me I wouldn’t hear from him for a while. The tears flowed once again.

I put on my dark sunglasses and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.

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