How My Sister and I Reclaimed Mother’s Day

Nita Sweeney
3 min readMay 10, 2020

I don’t remember which one of us decided to reclaim Mother’s Day, but it began with an impromptu day-long road trip. With little fanfare or notice to anyone except Ed, the #onehundredpercentgoodhusband, my sister Amy and I hopped in her convertible and drove north up Route 23 to Putnam County, the part of Ohio where both of our parents were born and grew up. We visited our grandparents’ houses, the cemeteries where our grandparents and other relatives on both sides of the family were buried, and we stopped at fast-food restaurants to eat.

We bypassed the buffets in restaurants with white linen tablecloths and the brunches in popular breakfast places.

It wasn’t the food.

We were hiding from the mothers and daughters.

I’ve always said my biological clock never went off. My niece, Jamey, was the closest thing to a daughter I ever had. To claim I did anything close to parenting her would be an outright lie. She was simply the first young person in our family with whom I spent more than the occasional holiday. And she was my sister’s daughter, her only child.

And then Jamey died.

And then our mother died.

And then it was Mother’s Day.

No thank you.

So we took off.

Another year on Mother’s Day, a close friend was in the psych ward. The friend’s own mother was dead and her daughter was unable to visit. So Amy and I reclaimed Mother’s Day by spending a few hours with our friend. After, Amy and I drove through Taco Bell and ate in the car in the parking lot. We talked about our mother’s chronic cough and how crazy it made both of us and how we wondered if that made us horrible daughters. And we talked about Jamey’s illness and how that had turned the world upside down. And we talked about how much we loved Taco Bell.

Year after year we have continued the tradition, avoiding the malls and the restaurants and, for the most part, the mothers and daughters who celebrate, blissfully unaware (or so we project) of the clock ticking down the minutes until they will no longer have each other. And we usually eat Taco Bell.

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Nita Sweeney

Bestselling author of A Daily Dose of NOW, Depression Hates a Moving Target and other books. Runner, mindful reality coach, mental health warrior, dog mom.