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Breakfast in bed please. Just measure a healthy serving of my favorite cereal  with a cup of yogurt and some fruit. And the flowers make it extra special. /KARA MARZIALIBreakfast in bed please. Just measure a healthy serving of my favorite cereal with a cup of yogurt and some fruit. And the flowers make it extra special. /KARA MARZIALII’ve heard it said that a mother’s work is challenging. I’d like to add that a working mother’s work is doubly challenging. My to-do list never shrinks. So while flowers make a lovely Mother’s Day gesture, I have a few other things in mind. Here are some (not so subtle) suggestions:

Let me sleep

For goodness sake, if you’d like to see my loving, maternal side emerge that Sunday morning, do not wake me from a peaceful slumber. Don’t make noise, don’t set an alarm, don’t lift a shade or draw the curtains. Simply let me lie there. Alone. Trust me: I’ll love the opportunity to relax and enjoy my morning without the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

This is my first Mother’s Day without my mom. She died late last summer. “Are you dreading Mother’s Day?” I have been asked many times. “Not at all,” has been my reply.

When my family gets together, they love to talk about their favorite Mother’s Day memory. The story goes that my father dug up a dogwood tree in the back of the woods behind our house and planted it as a surprise for my mother. She was delighted. About a week later, he replaced it with a bigger tree that he found in the woods; a week later an even bigger tree.  This went on for several weeks, with my family reveling conspiratorially in the delight that my mother showed each time she thought her tree was growing so rapidly. Eventually, she caught on.

Because I was not even born when this happened, I have relied on my siblings’ many versions of this story for details. One has a tree as big as the house before my mother even noticed. I don’t know the exact truth, but I do know it’s the favorite Mother’s Day story in my family. And that’s the thing; my Mother’s Day memories are unique to my relationship with my mother and my family. This is true for all of us.

Ann Maria Reeves JarvisAnn Maria Reeves JarvisFrom Mothers’ Day to Mother’s Day

In the 1850s, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis started holding Mothers’ Day work clubs throughout West Virginia as a way for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers. The groups tended to wounded soldiers from both sides during the Civil War, worked to improve sanitary conditions and fought to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination. During the summer of 1865, Jarvis organized an annual Mothers’ Friendship Day to bring people of all political beliefs together to promote peace and goodwill.

“82 Ways to Tell Mom You Love Her.” “Don’t Forget about Mom!” “Tell Your Mother You Love Her.” “Make Sure Mom Gets the Message.”

This year, the first of about a thousand emails reminding me to call, appreciate and buy stuff for my mother on Mother’s Day arrived on April 7, more than a full month before the holiday itself (May 10). But for those of us who have lost our mothers, this holiday presents an onslaught of media messages that taunt, provoke and wound as they urge us to reach out to someone we can no longer touch.

For me, it’s been four years; I’m a junior at Loss University — experienced enough to feel steadier, but there is no graduation day to work toward. Starting with Passover, the calendar is an annual emotional minefield; commemorations of holidays are shaded by other associations, extending through her May 1 birthday, and to Mother’s Day and Israel Independence Day. This time period ensnares with its complex, wildly variant emotional responses; especially last year, when the week that began with Israel’s Day of Remembrance ended with my mother’s yahrtzeit and Mother’s Day in a 48-hour timespan. Without my mother, and not a mother myself, Mother’s Day contributes to this month of emotional intensity.

Shana Maydel has moved away from the two most important women in her life – her mom and her grandma. The separation took some chutzpah and a lot of convincing. The two simply didn’t want to let her go. However, the one strong argument Shana used to persuade them was not the perfect job waiting for her in the big city, but the agreement to allow them to see her Facebook page. Luckily for us, in honor of Mother’s Day, she has shared some status updates and her family’s responses to them in the comments. Enjoy!