May 12, 2015

On surviving Mother's Day + Honey Fennel Gingerbread

I wanted to write a Mother's Day post, at the very least acknowledge the occasion with a special recipe, a kind thought, a photo of my mom and I, anything. But I began Sunday morning by accidentally going on Facebook. That did not go so well for me. I forgot last year's note to self to avoid FB like the plague on Mother's Day (and also ideally hide in a dark hole and not come out for days after). 

Yup. Some years are rougher than others. It's funny how grief doesn't follow a linear or logical path. It's been close to 6 years since my mom died, and I'm still at times whammed in the gut, usually when I least expect it. Most of the time, I'm fine. As Hope Edelman says in this year's Mother's Day Letter to Motherless Daughters: "A mother-sized hole will always exist in your life. But as the author Abigail Thomas has said, eventually you get used to never getting used to it." Nailed it.

My mom actually hated Mother's Day. She thought it was a corporate hallmark holiday that was cheesy and overly-commercial. So there. It makes me laugh when I think of it. Mother's Day rubbed her anti-establishment spirit the wrong way, for probably all the same reasons she wanted me and my sister to call her by her actual name, instead of mommy. But I think she secretly delighted in anything special we did to mark the occasion. For all her rebelliousness against mainstream culture, she had the most tender heart I've ever met.

My mom and our unconventional post-modern art 'Christmas tree', circa 1985

Still, she always made a point of protesting if we did anything for Mother's Day. Save it for my birthday, she would say, that is the real day you should be celebrating me. I try to remind myself of this every year, sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't. My boyfriend also lost his mother, a few years before mine, so our approach is to just kind of pretend Mother's Day isn't happening and try to go about our regular activities. Denial seems like a lame way to go about it, but for now it's all we've got.

With rarely-seen curlers in her hair, which she saw as an opportunity to be a goofball

So if any of you out there also found it to be a hard day to get through this year, for whatever reason…  a) please know you were not alone, b) I've got two things for you: my best gingerbread recipe, and these words that the one and only Helen Rosner posted on Facebook, which I found piercingly honest and funny and totally awesome and comforting:

"Love to all having a rough day because you don't have a mom, don't have the mom you want, aren't a mom & want to be, are a mom & don't want to be, hate old photos, or hate brunch."

I happen to love brunch and old photos, so I guess at least I have that going for me. More importantly, I had the mother I wanted, so I am infinitely blessed, no matter how much pain her physical absence causes me.

For my Honey Fennel Gingerbread recipe, whose ambrosial aroma has been clinically proven to melt away loneliness and post-holiday angst (or at the very least, just make a really really nice snack with tea), click hereAnd for those of you who are lucky enough not to suffer from Mother's Day PTSD, I hope it was a sunny and love-filled day this year. 


  1. Love the Christmas Tree. What a wild and wonderful childhood you must have had with such a creative and antiestablishment mama. I can tell I would love her already in her roller hairdo. I am so sad for you that you lost your mother so young. Such a heart ache. I lost my dad at 58 and he was 84. That was still too soon, but about right. I was able to nurse him for 17 month and have plenty of time to say goodbye, celebrate his life after his passing, and still miss him terribly daily. Mom is 85 and thriving... she will live to be 105, I am positive... but I am the only one of my pack of 5 that have been pals since we were 12 that has a parent left. I didn't understand until I lost one. Now I get it and I hope you can feel my hug.

    1. Hi Valerie, thank you so much for your kind words and sharing your story. Death of a parent is hard at any age, I'm sorry to hear about your dad. Thank you for the hug and right back at you :-) xoxox

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  4. I made this for brunch with friends today and it was a big hit. Loved sharing it with friends and also sharing your blog with them. Thanks!

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