When Mother’s Day Is Complicated - BRANWYN | Performance Innerwear

When Mother’s Day Is Complicated

This week, our In the Wild editor shares a personal story in celebration of the very personal holiday we know as Mother’s Day.
5 Major Benefits of Investing in Your Underwear Reading When Mother’s Day Is Complicated 4 minutes

On Mother’s Day 2020, I was flying through the night on an almost-empty airplane. During the early days of the COVID pandemic, my mom stopped eating and was put into hospice care. I booked a ticket from California to head back to Massachusetts, my childhood home. I’d spend the following week at my parent’s house, caring for my mom as she faded away. 

The process happened slowly and then all at once. When even tiny bits of frozen juice rattled in my mother’s chest, causing more pain than palliation, it was clear that she was ready to go. Still, when I went into her room on May 15 and found her  cold and still, I had trouble understanding what was going on. 

Losing your mother is a disorienting experience, at least it was for me. My mom, Bonnie, had been sick at that point for more than a decade. She’d been drifting further away as Alzheimer's disease first took over her mental and later her physical self.

A few years before, she’d started having trouble recognizing me. Her memory collapsed as her mobility faltered. Her speech dwindled to a few words here and there. The slow collapse of my mom’s vitality had left her without agency and understanding, but in many ways emotion remained intact. “I’m happy you’re here,” she would say and stroke my head—even if she didn’t know that I once grew in her body, that she’d raised me and loved me, and that I loved her too. 

In the years after my mom’s passing, Mother’s Day always came like an unhappy surprise. I work in marketing, so the holiday is unavoidable. Drafting Mother’s Day emails, blogs, and special promotions churned up a longing that I didn’t realize was still there. I wanted to have someone to find the “perfect present” for. I wanted to scroll through gift guides in search of something just right. I wanted to feel that love so deep it didn’t have a bottom. I wanted a hug. I wanted a phone call. I just really wanted my mom. 

Last year, Mother’s Day again looked a little different for me. That afternoon, I went to a yoga class and felt zips of pain shoot through my belly. Two mornings later, on May 16, a wet and wailing newborn was placed on my bare chest. My perfect daughter Sawyer was born—slowly, slowly growing and then out all at once. The next hour of seeing her, smelling her, meeting her eyes was the most magical of my life. “I’m so happy you’re here,” I said, cradling her tiny head, even smaller than my palm. 

This year will be my first Mother’s Day as a mom myself. In some ways, the earth-shattering love I feel for my daughter has soothed the longing I feel for my own mom. In other ways, I miss my mom more than ever and can’t believe that Bonnie and Sawyer will never get to meet. 

If Mother’s Day is complicated for you, we feel you, we see you, we love you. We hope you take the time tomorrow to do what feels best—whether that means celebrating whole-heartedly or turning your phone off and spending the day alone. One thing is for sure: hard times pass, good times do too. Happy Mother’s Day—or not—whatever that means to you. 


BRANWYN asked our community how they celebrate Mother’s Day, here are some answers…  

“It’s a day for me to reflect on the mothers in my life and my journey as a mother and the joy my kids bring me.” — Genevieve 

“Nothing special. More time as a family.” — Angela 

“It’s a painful reminder of the mother who died when I was 11, gentle solidarity with others in my life whose moms have also died.” — Hannah 

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