But it wasn’t a tough day. In fact it was really sweet and something to treasure. My fiancé is more than halfway across the world for work, but he remembered to buy cards from him and my son and left flowers and a gift for me. There was even a card he had signed for Bella with a note that said “She is always with you.”
At around 6:30 a.m. I heard the little guy's footsteps. He climbed into bed with me and said “Happy Mother’s Day! Today is your day. We will do whatever you want today Mommy.” He asked if we could snuggle. I love that he still likes to do that. Of course, snuggle sometimes means flipping and flopping around in bed which was the case this morning. I struggled to sleep between sneezing, coughing, blowing my nose and feeling like I was in bed with a dolphin and quickly gave up.
On days when I know I will be sad, I usually overschedule us. Staying busy keeps me happier. I had promised to take the little man to the zoo and then to see Rio 2. He is fresh off his Amazon Rainforest unit in Kindergarten and also eager to see the baby Panda Bear, Bao Bao. I had promised a dear friend in DC that we would visit. I also knew I wanted to visit Bella. So, lots to do and even though I was feeling pretty yucky, I really didn’t want to spend the day in bed.
Off we went to the zoo. He was planning our visit in terms of food and what I might be convinced to buy him. “Let’s get ice cream. Can we eat lunch here? Can I get a toy? Can we see the panda? Can I tell you about sharks? Hey, did you know the three levels of the rainforest? I do!” He was skipping through the zoo with complete joy. We passed a face painting booth and he wanted a lemon shark painted on his face.
Since Bella died, I have certainly been guilty of spoiling him. It’s something I have been trying to correct all year but today I decided that if I wanted to spoil him, it was a good day to do it. Truly all I wanted today was to have a wonderful day with him full of sweet memories. Soon he was sporting a lemon shark on his cheek. Next we saw the zebras, cheetahs, elephants and then the Panda exhibit. I was surprised to see the pandas out and playing in their yards. Mom was eating bamboo with passion and baby Bao Bao was up in a tree. I couldn’t believe our luck! This was by far the best zoo visit in terms of being able to see all the coolest animals. He looked at me, smiled and said, “This is literally the most awesome place.”
He asked for a toy. He picked a big fat plastic red, yellow and black snake. He declared it a boy snake and immediately gave it a creepy sounding name but assured me that the snake only eats leaves and is actually very friendly.
We linked up with our friend and visited for a few hours over brunch. I always enjoy seeing her. Bella loved her so much and being around her makes me feel close to Bella. Apparently my little man loves her just as much as I do because it was hard to get a word in edge-wise. “Have you met my snake? He is a nice snake. He isn’t a girl. He eats only leaves and rocks. Here, pet him. He likes you. Can you hold his mouth open for me? Can I take him to lunch? Can we pretend we just got him at a pet store?” At the restaurant he assured everyone the snake wasn’t real. No one seemed very surprised by that fact. He hung the snake out the window. He and the snake hung out under the table. A boy and his fake pet snake.
When the movie ended, we reunited with the new pet snake (who was taking a nap in the car) and headed over to the cemetery to see Bella. That may sound sad. On one level it is. I hate having to visit her there. I really hate that she is there and there are many days that I still cannot believe she is gone. But I also enjoy going there and taking her something. The cemetery grounds are absolutely beautiful, peaceful, green and flowery. It’s an amazing place to be laid to rest and I find comfort in taking something to ensure she is not forgotten. My little man told her all about our day and introduced his snake to her and then proceeded to pretend the snake was slithering through the grass. I’m sad to have to visit her there but glad that I can. It just wouldn’t feel like Mother’s day if I wasn’t able to go there.
He looked over at me. “Are you crying Mommy? I want you to be happy.” This time I was able to look at him, smile and say, “No honey, I am not crying. I am happy.” He said, “I think she is really happy and dancing in heaven.”
Our day ended as it began. Snuggled up in bed, watching a movie, one of us sneezing and coughing and the other one flipping and flopping around like a fish out of water. I miss Bella every single day and today was no different, but I felt grateful today for the joy that I felt in my heart as I just savored every minute of sweetness life offered.
Most days being a mother means having to say, “Please get up. Please get dressed. Please eat your meal. Please don’t burp at the table. Please say excuse me. Please say thank you. Please brush your teeth. Please go to sleep” at least 45 times. It means discipline and routine. It means you have to watch what you say and do and set a good example. I wouldn't trade it for the world. In my second Mother's Day without Bella and in a week where the world is focused on hundreds of girls who were kidnapped from their families and may never be seen again, I felt truly blessed to have this special day with my little guy and to know and love all the amazing mothers (family and friends) who inspire me and teach me every day.