I am not the Grinch, and I have no intention of stealing Mother’s Day.
I do, however, have a dose of reality to inject that I hope will not spoil the mood.
I actually hope that it will help somebody.
On this day, millions of people in this country will stress out over how to celebrate their mothers. If she’s still above ground, they will probably go with her to church, or dinner, or wherever she says that she wants to go. For Moms who are no longer here, there will be many trips to the cemetery. Not my thing, but I understand the sentiment.
The truth is, we all get guilted into doing something special for the woman who birthed us. If you have a good relationship with your mother, then this is not hard. There will be flowers and cards given, at the very least. Those who are willing and able will give bigger gifts, like jewelry and TV’s and computerized whatnots. Speeches will be given, hugs and kisses will be exchanged, and tears will be shed.
Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it?
I’m not mad. I love when good mothers are celebrated, and they should be. Motherhood is not easy. If there are rewards to be gotten, then those who did it right should get them. Period.
However…for an under-acknowledged minority (?), the struggle is not how to celebrate Mom but if. Mom may still be alive, but the two of you don’t get along, for whatever reason. A painful reality is that every woman who has given birth was not meant to be a mother, and they spend years communicating to their children that they never wanted to be. The children of said mothers become the adults who struggle to justify honoring a woman who has been less than honorable. For those people, Mother’s Day is more like Execution Day. No matter what you do (or don’t do), you will end up wanting to chop your own head off before the day is over.
I fall into a somewhat gray area. This is the second year that I’m doing Mother’s Day with Mom being dead. That in itself is a lot to deal with. I wish that I could say that it is my second Mother’s Day without her; that would not be true. But before her dementia set in, Mom and I had a strained relationship. For the sake of this post, I will simply say that she considered Mother’s Day a celebration for her and her mother. This was our conversation every year:
Me: "Mom, what do you want for Mother's Day?"
Mom: "To be left alone!"
Looking back at the many Mother’s Days that came and went, I have come to realize that Mom just was not wired to accept goodness from me. There may have been some room in her heart to accept it from my younger sister Traci, but from me…not so much. I can only speculate as to why, but I won’t do it here. What I know for sure is that year after year, I did handcrafted gifts, handwritten cards, original poems, roses by the dozen, cakes homemade and store-bought, and teddy bear/balloon sets that I could not afford at the time. They were all met with the same lukewarm reaction, like the two of us were acting out a scene in a movie, and she was a bad actor bluffing her way through the script.
What was I supposed to do with that?
What I ended up doing was nothing. I decided not to waste another moment trying to satisfy an unsatisfiable mother. I stopped trying to insert myself into Mom’s Mother’s Day Celebration, because I was never truly invited. I gave her what she wanted. I left her alone. And now that she is gone, I will not feel guilty for that.
Nope. Can’t make me.
For the person who might still be struggling with Mother’s Day vs. Toxic Mom, you are my reason for releasing these thoughts to the Internet. As adult daughters (and sons), we struggle with celebrating our toxic moms because of society’s lie that there’s no such thing as a bad mother. There are only good mothers and mothers who “did the best they could”.
I get it…there is no “mommy manual”. Children don’t come with instructions, and mistakes get made. Especially on the first-born child. Good mothers know this and apologize for it. Those are not the moms that I’m talking about.
No, ma’am…there is such a thing as a mother who “did the best that she felt like“, a mother who “never wanted children but had them anyway”, and a mother who “wished that she could go back to a time when she didn’t have children”. BIG difference.
What do you do when your spirit wants to do the right thing by celebrating, but you’re disappointed with the Mom that you’ve been given? My pastor would say “forgive her”, and he would be correct. Glib, but correct. Remember that forgiveness is the beginning of a process by which you get free of someone else’s garbage. You can forgive and reconcile. You can forgive and keep it moving. You can forgive and love from a distance. You can forgive and absolutely forget. It is YOUR choice. Choose what your spirit can handle. And HEAL.
Me? I’m going to go to church. If I recall correctly, it will be the first Mother’s Day that I’ve gone to church since 2012, five months after Traci died (do NOT ask how that went!). I made a special corsage to wear, even though I’m pretty sure that no one does that anymore. I will wear it because my mother would not. I will honor her in death, because I could not honor her (to her satisfaction) in life. Hopefully, in this process, I will finally feel at peace with my mother.
Happy Mother’s Day!