“I got a nice dose of Mumma energy last night,” Becky called to tell me awhile back. She was going through a bit of a rough spot and really needed me in person, but had to settle for one of my cross-country pep talks instead. She’d been to a meditation/healing circle, led by a holistic Moab woman with “Mumma hands,” a giving heart, and wise, empowering words. Once again, my younger daughter had found just the surrogate she needed for that specific moment in her worldly travels.
“Oh, I’m so glad you feel better, honey,” I sighed. “Why don’t you book a couple office visits with her? That would be nice, huh? Think of it as my Mother’s Day present.”
“Uh, Mom,” Becky said, “you do know that Mother’s Day is when I’m supposed to give you stuff, not when you tell me to give stuff to myself?”
“Right. But I’m telling you this is what I want more than anything. If you give yourself this gift, you will actually be pampering me, making my heart glad.”
“What is it with her?” I imagined Becky saying after we hung up. Every Mother’s Day for as far back as she and her sister could remember, I’d told them not to fuss over me, not to get me anything. As long as my girls were happy and healthy, I assured them, I had everything I needed. I meant it too, wholeheartedly. Of course, they’d still give me plenty of little trinkets and tokens, including their annual hand-drawn coupons for ice cream at the Pine Tree Frosty. I’d stash those in the glove compartment and promise to cash them in as soon as we got “back up to camp.” Last count, I had eight of them stacked under my snow scraper, never redeemed. We still enjoyed our share of Rangeley soft serve, regardless, lapping up the late spring sunshine as we fed the pond ducks even more than ourselves. Fortunately, all my Mother’s Days perfectly coincided with opening up camp, with no formal gifts necessary because the earth was warming up, the road was drying out, and we were returning to Rangeley. And, now that I am home here for good, I know it’s thanks to my three mothers, my beautiful daughters and husband, and all the nurturing, creative “Mumma energy” that works in mysterious ways to give us this life.
“Oh, honey, you didn’t need to give me anything!” I remember my mother telling me as she unwrapped my Mother’s Day gift. I was 17, and had presented her with a set of stoneware salt and pepper shakers I’d proudly bought with some of my $1.80-an-hour paycheck. “All I need is for you to be happy, really,” she insisted, setting them on the dining room table for “special company” and hugging me.
When Mum died suddenly a couple months later, I couldn’t imagine happy being a possibility for me ever again. Smiling was forced torture. And for years laughing was only a release mechanism that left a pain deep in my chest. Happy—as in sitting in the sunshine humming and wanting to hug myself? Well that, I believed, was forever on the other side of the big, dark wall where I’d left my previous life. But then, in spite of myself, slowly but surely Mumma energy began trickling back into my world. It came from Prudy, my step-mom, who helped me love myself as a grown woman while seeing the wonder in all things. It came from my Reiki teacher, Holly, who channeled Mother Earth energy into my heart and hands, empowering me to heal myself and those I love. It came just in time from my mother-in-law, Ruth, when—after holding each other at arm’s length for years—we finally embraced the power of unconditional love. It came from my Mum, who shows me everyday how love lives on in Spirit. (For more of this story, see my Come and Meet Those Dancin’ Feet series.) And, the Mumma energy came full circle in Helen, my mother’s namesake, and her sister, Becky.
“I couldn’t have chosen anyone better to become the mother of my child,” Tom wrote in my first Mother’s Day card. “Really?” I remember thinking, resting the card on my enormous belly. “Will he still feel that way a couple months—and a couple decades—from now?” I was seven months pregnant with Helen, my first-born, and my attitude towards motherhood had just barely switched from “Babies are cute, but keep them away from me,” to “As long as my natural instincts don’t fail me, I think maybe I could be a mom.”
Fast forward past college graduations, a wedding, and mother-daughter memories better than any Hallmark could anticipate. My Mumma energy is pumping just fine, I’m glad to report, triggered just as much by giving birth and from holding my babies as it is by having my daughters mother me back. It’s more ethereal than any biological process, flowing within the laughter that bubbles through the phone line, in long, tearful goodbyes, and those that went unspoken. It’s in the sweet, mysterious grace that keeps me here—alive and well—as a middle-aged mom, riding roller coasters and rapids, or dancing in a concert crowd to the songs that bind us together. Turns out, it’s the gift my mother asked for so many years ago, the one that never needs wrapping. I am grateful I found it, in the kindness of friends and strangers, in the courage to live my legacy, to create my own health and happiness every day. Thank you, Mum. Thank you, everybody. I really don’t need anything more.