Double Tap For Mother’s Day

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The month of May can be a precarious month for some as Mother’s Day approaches. I’ve noticed that logging onto social media on Mother’s Day can be a landmine of emotions. A big overwhelm of love in some instances or tense triggers for others. Over the years, I’ve noticed how my social media timeline is flooded with joy, sadness, and even some ambivalence on Mother’s Day. I’ve read beautiful tributes to women who have birthed children and beautiful tributes to women who have not but effortlessly stood in the gap as a mother figure. I’ve teared up reading posts that felt like I was gifted a page from someone’s personal diary from people who shared their grief through quick story snippets as they mourn the loss of their mom. A brief peek into unspeakable sorrow.  We show sympathy for motherless child, but maybe we don’t hold enough space for the motherless adult. 

I’ve seen pictures that serve as a snapshot in time from my social media friends with their moms over the years. I envision their photos as push pins on a timeline, marking big moments with their moms – from weddings to graduations to the birth of kids to seemingly insignificant moments like sitting on the couch at home or in the backyard during summer. Entire generations and well-lived lives are captured in a 90-second reel or a carousel of photos.  Some I know IRL and some I’ll never meet face to face or really ever know.  But in these moments, we are connected. I send them air hugs, post heart stickers, and prayer hand emojis to show my genuine care. Sometimes, I wonder if I could do more.   

Top Left Photo courtesy of Demetrius Neal / Wedding dress photo courtesy of Lance Omar Thurman

They share photos of themselves as children decked out in matching outfits with their siblings as their moms hold their little hands and smile for the camera. Or maybe they share photos of themselves as teens, blossoming into their womanhood, yet still under their mom’s protective gaze.  They pose in satin dresses with tulle and sequins flanked by artificial plants atop white pedestals and a muted cloth backdrop. They stand while mom sits, glowing and peaceful, deserving of the rest. I also see the photos they post of their moms when they were young. Black and white pictures or in sepia tones of their moms before they were even moms.  Young women with their own memories, childhoods and futures ahead of them. Shrewd and beautiful women turned lovers and wives and then mothers who poured themselves into their babies, their men, their jobs, their communities and, hopefully, sometimes even themselves. Sometimes they share family photos that show me their roots in the faces of their grandmothers, grandmamas, GiGIs, Mee-Maws, Big Mamas or Ma’Dears. They let me into whatever sweet epithet they called their mother’s mother. In these moments, I am a family friend, sharing in their love, sadness, or both. Through these posts, I get a chance to bear witness and be a part of their stories. I’m given access to the inside joke but never fully grasp the punchline. My doom scrolling is brightened, even elevated by their meaningful moments. 

I’ve seen posts from moms who choose to celebrate themselves on Mother’s Day because they feel the world, or even their families, don’t support them enough. I react to those posts with a heart or a double tap in solidarity because their truth is their truth.

On Mother’s Day, my social media is a place where adult daughters and sons pay tribute to moms who didn’t always get it right. They share emotional messages with their moms who sometimes didn’t show up at all or showed up all the time.  They post superlatives to describe moms who sacrificed so much and left behind a legacy. And even more messages to moms who they may describe as imperfect but always trying. 

On Mother’s Day, my social media is a place where adult daughters and sons tag their moms in Mother’s Day memes with sparkly flowers and cursive fonts with sweet sayings they believe in, but don’t have the words to say themselves. They use social media to build a bridge because they choose not to communicate regularly, or ever, but honor the love that remains even in the estrangement. My social media friends sometimes share it all or maybe just a little. They may pay homage to their queens – living and beyond or serve up hard honesty about the mothers they wished they’d had.   

I have social media friends who are finding their place in a world without the mom they’d always known because illness, dementia or Alzheimer’s has impacted their mom’s golden years. I imagine the longing for the familiar while keeping pace with a new normal is a weight only fellow caretakers can truly understand. When they don’t know what words to post, sometimes they simply share pictures of their hand holding their mom’s hand.  A close-up shot of fingers, intertwined and connected.   Those pictures don’t always come with a caption.  And even with no words, I take heed to what my social media friend is saying. There is a knowing there. On Mother’s Day, these posts remind me that the saying the days are long, but the years are short doesn’t only apply to parents with young children, but also to adult children who are making decisions that they never quite feel ready for. Even still, they rise to the occasion because that’s what their mom would have done for them.   

On Mother’s Day, my social media is a landmine of emotions.  I not only receive the flood of feelings, I welcome it. I accept that social media as a virtual release for some.  A place where they can yell into the void or receive empathy in moments they need it most. I’m ok with that. I honor that and I honor them. And with that, this Mother’s Day, I invite it all. 

 

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