“Do you think they’ll sell all those balloons?” I asked the guy next to me in line. It was going to be a lengthy wait, there was only one cashier and the line snaked around the impulse item bins and down the store aisle.

He peered past me at the enormous clusters of Mother’s Day balloons, grouped loosely and floating above our heads, lightly hopping around the ceiling.

“I don’t know,” he said, weighing ranges of thought as to how it might go down.

“No,” said the older woman standing next to him, fidgeting from one foot to the other. “See those ones over there? Some are already losing their air.”

I followed her gaze but lost track of the ones she was referring to. I was too enthralled by the giant cluster suspended above me. I felt awestruck there were so many in multiple shapes and sizes and languages—close to a few hundred. The store’s natural lighting was darkened by the sheer volume of them.

I lost myself in a moment of thought. Should I buy one just because?

Today is Mother’s Day, and my mother died almost eight years ago. Some years this day passes in angst, and some years it sails by smoothly. There is no rhyme or reason, or at least I’ve given up trying to figure it out. It mostly just is, and I am now experienced enough to take preventative measures to help myself prepare in advance, come what may.

How weird is that? I am experienced at grief. Can I put that on my resume?

My mother didn’t get to see me sober in recovery as I define it today. Although I was active in program in her last years of life, I was still so new. Looking back my recovery feels unbridled compared to what it feels like now.

Quite honestly I’m not sure my mother would’ve even liked my sobriety. I say it like it is its own entity but what I really mean is I’m not sure she would have liked me as an [emotionally] sober person. The longer I am in recovery the more I start to do things differently. For example I start to set boundaries and acknowledge personal limitations, two things that were difficult for her understand. What little I did of this before she died she had a very hard time with. There was minimal acceptance of any adjustments in the family dynamic. Most were met with criticism, disdain, even furor. And what I know now is all that was a blanket for fear. At least that’s what I see in myself.

This is not to say I don’t miss my mom because I do, a lot, especially on days like today. And also because another part of my recovery has been seeing the gifts she gave me come to light and shine. I would have liked her to have had the opportunity to see and feel proud of that.

Maybe this year in thinking about Mother’s Day I consider it from the angle of me getting to be a mom to myself: having the opportunity to start up where she left off. Growing into this new space which has opened up somewhat painfully, yet beautifully. There is less room here for admonishment and more room to let go and receive who this person inside of me is shaping up to be.

That feels like a really beautiful thing.

“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”
—Henry David Thoreau