m-day project explained

for moms everywhere

Well, I will try and explain it anyway. This is about the fifth time I have tried to compose this post. Where to begin?

My Mom died almost eight years ago (June 1999). The last thing I ever sent her was a Mother's Day card. The last thing she sent me was a postcard with my sister's address and a request to send my sister money for an air conditioner.

One of the things that happens in the grief process is that you get to 'celebrate' (I use that term loosely as not much celebrating usually goes on in the first year) each of the holidays without the person. I still remember secretly sitting around on Thanksgiving thinking my Mom would call. I knew it was a crazy thought, but grief does things to your mind.

I thought I was doing better and then Mother's Day 2000 rolled around. It hit really hard that my Mom was gone, even though the more rational part of myself knew that it would have been highly unlikely that had she been alive we would have celebrated together. Here I should note that my Mother was an alcoholic with bipolar disorder. To say that our relationship was complex would be an understatement. The anger part of my grief was coming at me at waves, so watching other mom/daughter relationships was very very hard. I would either get very angry or be brought to tears. Even for complete strangers that I just happened upon in my day-to-day life. Fun times.

Four years ago I decided that I needed to redirect these feelings. I needed to find a way to celebrate the moms in my life in an effort to lessen the pain and burden I was feeling. I had a few friends who had had children and I also had a teacher who was also a nun who was like a grandmother figure. And so I went and bought and sent Mother's Day cards to them. I think I sent five. But I felt like I was doing something good and felt better.

The next year I continued this effort, but made my own postcards from photos I had taken. The list grew from five to thirty.

The following year I lost my teacher/nun friend. I just couldn't bring myself to do it and so skipped a year.

Last year it seemed like more people I knew than not were becoming Moms and so I decided it was time to bring back the project.  Further inspiration came from the editor of Mommy Wars, Leslie Morgan Steiner. In her afterword she says that positive role models for American mothers in the 21st century are as hard to find as "swim diapers at Target in August". She also asks when was the last time you told another woman she was a good mother. I ended up sending out cards to over 50 women around the globe.

This year I haven't picked a theme yet. I am hoping to outdo last year. And maybe even have them arrive on or before Mother's Day.

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5 Responses to m-day project explained

  1. HapaLove says:

    My sincere condolences, Chris. That's really a beautiful project, both meaningful and aesthetically beautiful.

  2. zanna says:

    What a wonderful thing you are doing. I lost my father 3 years ago, and have often wished to turn some of those confused unconsolable feelings into something good…
    How do you typically address moms that you don't know with this project? I know you mentioned before not wanting to weird out any moms that might be confused by a random online person sending them a card…I don't think mine would, she knows I'm online a lot, however I was just curious what you typically said on the cards. 🙂
    ~zanna

  3. chris says:

    I know last year for many of the postcards I focused on the message of the Mommy Wars, expressing that they were good Moms. I don't think I actually sent one to anyone that I hadn't met at least once (with the exception of some on line people). But there were a few people that I didn't know very well. Those were a bit tougher, but thankfully postcards aren't too big.Many of the women made a point of personally thanking me. There are some that I didn't hear from, but that was okay too. I didn't go into this really having any expectations.I think this year my focus may be more along the lines of 'I'm glad you are here'.–chris

  4. chris says:

    Thank you for your kind words and good thoughts. I appreciate it.

  5. domesticcrusader says:

    I cannot imagine the pain of having to lose a Mother. What a beautiful project you are doing. It clearly shows what a beautiful person you are!

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