For my brother “Charlie,” perfume on Mother's Day was as important in our house as bottles of Old Spice cologne on Father's Day. It was the one gift my dad could count on to be a winner. It's funny how the sense of smell can bring a person back to a different time and place.
For me, a whiff of this fragrance transports me to my mom's closet, a perfect hiding spot for a 3-year-old. Not only did this scent linger on party dresses, but fringes, sequins, beads and velvet also hung above my head and caressed my cheeks. It was a magical place to hide and try on high-heeled shoes and be safe. No one could find me there in my fortress, and I'd retreat there in times of loneliness, sadness, curiosity, nap avoidance and trouble. It was a place of comfort that I felt my mother's love when she was not around.
Her closet has changed over the years. The fringes and party dresses are long gone, replaced with vests and slacks and more sensible shoes. I no longer need to find solitude within the confines of the wardrobe or need to sniff the drugstore perfume to know that I am loved. Instead, it has been instilled through the years with endless conversations, adventures and laughter.
The woman once roused a sleeping house guest in the middle of the night for an impromptu road trip, (while still wearing nightgowns) because she wanted me to know she was there for me. While not always subtle, the depth of her support has not gone unnoticed.
She has taught me to seek beauty in nature, the trees and mountains specifically, and to love fiercely and not be afraid to pack a bag and go see the world. She always found a way to travel, selling her graduation present piano to fund our road trip to Disney World. Standing at the gates of the park and staring at the enchanted castle brought tears to my 10-year-old eyes, and my dad's too. She has taught me to be selfless in sharing talents and believed(s) in me when things seem impossible. She has purchased the same birthday card more than once on accident, only reiterating the importance of the message within. Her determination to get what she wants and to refuse to be "a doormat" for anyone shows her grit. She was and is the first person to tell me to take a day off to "slow down and catch up," and to be gentle on myself. She has taught me how to live.
I appreciate my mom and know how fortunate I am to have such memories. While I'm still lucky to have her in my life this Mother's Day, social distancing has been difficult. A colleague said to me yesterday that his arms ache to hug his mom. I know I'm not alone in this, so I'm saluting all moms today who have loved beyond what they thought was possible. To all the moms who wore the same drugstore perfume for decades because their kids thought they loved it, to all those that packed lunches, planned surprises, and instilled magic, we tip our hats.
To those moms struggling to do their best, trying to be "half the mom" that they had growing up, you are already there. To those who secretly cry in the shower or linger in the car a bit longer before entering the house to have just a few minutes of alone time, you are enough. To moms who feel frazzled and frustrated, it's OK not to be perfect. Perfection is a myth, and all of us have made mistakes. For the moms who have snapped and screamed and melted down into a blubbering nothing, when you dried your tears and got up again, you taught perseverance and honest emotion. To those moms staying awake at night wondering if they are doing it right, you are. For those who feel judged by others or compare themselves to the extreme of social media, hold your head up a little higher. You are worthy. You are enough, and you matter. You are the person your child's arms ache to hold. Wishing all the moms a happy Mother's Day today and always, until we can hug again.
Kelly Brevig is Suicide Educational Services Coordinator with Evergreen Youth and Family Services.