A COMPLICATED HOLIDAY – THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORTING WOMEN WHO GRIEVE ON MOTHER’S DAY

The stats are in, moms had it rough last year. With so many either out of work, forced to take a cut in hours, or strapped with the impossible task of remote work while educating home-schooled kids, Mother’s Day 2021 has been well earned.

But this year and every year, let’s also take a moment to acknowledge the women who are currently praying to become a mother, wishing that their mother was in their lives, or both.

Because whichever category (or categories) they fall into, the feeling of facing a holiday that specifically targets the epicenter of their pain is incredibly isolating.

I am just one woman, with one woman’s story to tell. But I hope that my story will shed light on what someone in your life might be experiencing this May 9th, 2021.


My heart sinks, and my palms sweat as I begin writing this. The sheer thought of Mother’s Day gives me such a visceral reaction that I’m nearly ill. And it’s happened every year for as long as I can remember.

Vividly, I can remember being confused by Mother’s Day as a child. Confused and left out.

In grade school, I recall students and teachers celebrating the holiday by presenting flowers and cards to moms making lunchroom cameos. I would watch kids proudly gift their crafts to mothers who, lovingly and gratefully, cherished their personalized tokens of appreciation.

“Who are these people?”, I would think to myself. “How did these kids get moms that seemingly adore them AND participate in school functions?” The concept was almost unbelievable.

I do remember understanding that my mom’s job prevented her from being present. But I also remember the look on her face when I would finally deliver my artwork to her after school. If the look of utter waste of time didn’t say it all, finding my work in the discarded pile of mail definitely did.

It was probably a dumb gift anyway. I’ll do better next year.

As an older teenager, and as a woman in my twenties, Mother’s Day became a Hallmark holiday. Just another way for the Target card display to pressure me into deciding whether or not I should buy a card.

It wasn’t a difficult decision, but it was an awkward one. If we were on speaking terms that year, a card was in order. But then the next challenge would begin. Finding one with the least amount of sentiment.

“Blessed To Have You As My Mother”… Umm, no. “I Hope I’m Half The Mother You Are Someday”… Hard pass. “Happy Mother’s Day, Hope It’s Nice”… Perfect.

What a waste of $3.99. Maybe next year I’ll just say no.

In my thirties, salt was added to the Mother’s Day wound. Infertility.

For five years, I would fight the urge to spend the day in bed. And while holding back spontaneous tears, I celebrated with other people’s mothers.

Every year, my extended family threw a terrific Mother’s Day brunch. And don’t get me wrong, it was always a nice time spending the day with my grandma and aunts, but the subject I dreaded most would always manage to come up.

“Someday Christina, we will be celebrating you.” Or worse, “Any news to share with us this year, Christina?”

No Grandma, maybe next year I’ll be a mom, maybe.

Then 2019 came. After a successful round of IVF, I was pregnant with my son, and I was a mom. Finally. I could not wait to wear my maternity sundress, and brunch with the other women in my family as a member of the club.

What I didn’t anticipate, was the reality of Mother’s Day 2019. I wouldn’t be pregnant and glowing, but instead, living in the NICU and praying.

I was gratefully a mom, but quarantined to a room filled with cords and machines, “holding” my little boy through the holes of an incubator.

Next year is my year. Not only will I be celebrating, but I will be celebrating while showing off my sweet baby boy.

4 Days Old – 5/12/2019 – Mother’s Day

Now, the irony of being quarantined in 2019 (while thinking that it was a temporary situation) is not lost on me. But honestly, when our next spring celebration was cancelled due to Covid in 2020, I practically expected it.

And this year? This year I will be celebrating other people’s mothers once again because I took a job as a restaurant server just in time for Mother’s Day 2021.

Genius. Oh well, maybe next year.


To all the women who will be grieving instead of, or while, celebrating this Mother’s Day…

My heart goes out to you. You aren’t alone. It’s okay to cry. You will get through the day. And I hope you find reasons to celebrate your life every chance you get.


8 Days Old – 5/16/2019

I wasn’t blessed with a loving mom, but I am a loving mom, and I will celebrate that every chance I get.

IN PURSUIT OF COMMONALITY – RECONCILING WITH MY FATHER

The strangeness of being raised by a family that doesn’t look like you comes and goes over time. But the racial inequities that exploded to the surface in 2020 birthed a reckoning, and this reckoning made me yearn for commonality more than ever before.

I was reeling from an election season that exposed unfathomable bigotry. Damaging bigotry exposed in neighbors, friends, and family. And with the loss of each friendship, I reflected on prejudicial origins.

Soul-searching with refreshed eyes, I reflected on the prejudices that I have held, along with the prejudices that have been held against me. And as I reflected, I found myself seeking out the previously unknown side of my family. The family that looks like me. The family that may be able to relate.

Eventually becoming exhausted by sleepless nights of scrolling marriage certificates and obituaries, I realized that I had but one lead to follow. It was time to contact my father.

For more than twenty years, largely through social media, I kept tabs on him from a safe distance. Just in case the time would come for a relationship, I monitored his whereabouts.

Without getting into the details of why I waited twenty years, I will say, my younger self was simply not prepared to deal with the demons that he fought in his own life.

But with that being said, I still had hopes that things would be different this time. After all, now I am an adult, a mother, and a woman that has made great strides in the way of self-assurance.

Perhaps he was different too? Maybe, now that I didn’t need him as a parent, we would be able to connect as adults. Connect over life stories, family members, social concerns, racism.

So I did it. I threw caution to the wind as they say, and fired off my first sign of life via Facebook. And at first, things went surprisingly well. He was genuinely excited to hear from me. And while rapidly bringing me up to speed on our shared family members, he gleefully forwarded cousin’s photos, uncle’s birth dates, grandparent’s death dates, and every date of meaning in between.

Then it happened. The cracks that would destroy my hopes of having a social justice comrade for a father began to appear. And it all started with a Youtube video that he shared.

To my horror, my father sent me an argumentative video detailing how BLM activists orchestrated the insurrection at the capitol. And it didn’t stop there.

Relentless and with something to prove, he forwarded conspiratorial articles and conservative podcasts. All the while, repeatedly using language with discriminatory undertones. Even as I made polite attempts to get him to change the subject, his attempts to influence and persuade persisted.

Exasperated, I made my stance on these issues abundantly clear. In defense, my father used his own brown skin, and the fact that he has black “friends”, to justify his opinions.

Sigh… It became glaringly obvious, the camaraderie I sought was not coming in the form of my father.

So where does a parent/child relationship go from here? Do I retreat back to the shadows as a Facebook stalker? Hopefully not. Despite our differences, I would like to stay in touch. But with enormous conversational boundaries in place.

And as for my quest for commonality?

I realized that I had it all along. The people in my life that stand along side me today, may not provide commonality in genetic features, but each one provides the benefit of commonality through shared experiences and principles. Like they say, you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends.

WHO DO YOU LOOK LIKE?

I will always remember the bright Florida day that my best friend and I decided to spread out a blanket to hang out and read our new teeny-bopper magazines. We were still middle school preteens, and we especially loved the quizzes that would answer our burning questions about grown-up things like crushes and makeup.

Now, I don’t remember whether or not my crush was predicted to ask me to the dance, but I do remember one question. “Which celebrity do you most look like?”

My friend was a dead ringer for Full House’s adorable DJ Tanner, but I was at a complete loss. Trying to be helpful, my friend suggested, “Christina Ricci, maybe?” True, Christina and I shared the same first name, and her hair was brown, but the comparisons definitely stopped there.

The crazy thing is, Christina Ricci might have been the closest thing to a celebrity look-alike that I had back then.

I was a frizzy-haired girl mixed with my mom’s Mediterranean dark waves and my dad’s Filipino/Mexican brown skin. If I could have come up with a single young Latina or Pacific Island-looking actress, they would have been a passable response. But not a one came to mind.

Obviously, I understand that a teenage magazine quiz is not to be taken seriously. However, this simple question resulted in one of my earliest memories of feeling inadequate due to lack of representation.

Conscious or not, I knew that our culture celebrated light-skinned girls on TV. After all, they were the ones that were most often depicted as living in nice two-parent homes, being popular in school, and getting the boy.

At an impressionable age when self-worth is so fragile, this was just another obstacle blocking the view of potential. After all, representation matters.

Fortunately, we are gradually progressing as a society. From Disney to politics, women of color are appearing in leading roles more and more. And, because of this, fewer and fewer girls will have feelings of inferiority because of who they see in the mirror.

So today, on this International Women’s Day, let’s take a moment to celebrate the women breaking through society’s outdated racial barriers. Their perseverance will certainly have a positive effect for generations to come.