Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

I've decided that I don't much like Mother's Day. I don't like the slightly envious, slightly guilty feeling Mother's Day leaves me with every year.

Honoring mothers is fine -- but that's something that should be done more frequently than once a year. No, it's all the hype that surrounds it.

What about mothers whose children are in prison? Mothers who have lost a child? Mothers who beat and abuse and neglect their kids?

Or, sadly, mothers who have lost a child to an accident and for whom Mother's Day is a terrible reminder of a loved child who is no longer there.

Or women who wanted desperately to be mothers but aren't. Won't be. Can't.

Advertising would have us believe that every family has a Norman Rockwellian or Hallmark card mother -- someone who bakes cookies after school, who is always there to soothe the fevered brow, who is at every sports event, who helps with homework, is perfectly slim and toned and tan and coiffed and manicured. One who rarely gets moody or angry or doesn't do the dishes after supper and always has a clean, neat home, enough money for groceries and mortgages and a decent wardrobe, whose children always have enough money to play sports and have cute haircuts and the latest fad in clothing.'ve seen the ads too.

I don't know any mothers quite like that and actually never did. But it's a standard that somehow I feel slightly guilty for not achieving.

I miss my own mother on Mother's Day. And of all the lovely Mother's Days we celebrated together throughout her life and mine, I always remember the one Mother's Day that I and my brother (and father) forgot when I was maybe 11 or so. Mother didn't say anything until evening when it was quite evident than we hadn't gotten her even a card, and then she pretty much exploded into anger and tears and hurt, and nothing we could say made up for the hurt feelings our forgetfulness had caused. I don't know that it ever did, although we all tiptoed around her for the next week, bringing her little goodies and doing special things, and eventually it blew over. But I never forgot. I bet she didn't either.

She kept a little cup and saucer on her dresser for years that I bought the day after Mother's Day and gave to her late, and it always reminded me to be careful to remember birthdays and Mother's Day and Valentine's Day and the like. I didn't much like seeing it there because it reminded me of my own thoughtlessness.

I never forgot it again.

And try as I might, rationalize as I may, I am always a little apprehensive as the day approaches, not wanting my children to forget and yet trying not to expect that they will say or do anything. And trying not to have slightly hurt feelings if they do forget or call at the eleventh hour with a sheepish "Happy Mother's Day."

Sometimes I feel like a very meddlesome mother, asking way too many questions and judging too much in my reactions to the answers I get. Sometimes I feel that I interfere too much in their lives, and yet I struggle to balance how much to say and do with the situations that have an impact on my life and finances and emotions -- for various reasons. Our relationships are complicated and not without issues on both sides: perhaps everyone's are as well.

I'm happy for those whose children have always showered them with gifts and cards and flowers, and whose families join to make Mother's Day a big celebration.

I'm happy for the mothers who have wonderful adult-friend relationships with their children. I'm also envious of them.

I love my daughters and I know they love me. But life choices and circumstances can paint different scenarios than that rosy-Rockwell-Hallmark card ideal of motherhood. Not all relationships must conform to that picture in order to be valid and sufficient. Our relationships are works in progress, and some years they feel better than they do other years.

But they will never, ever, be the Hallmark card kind of relationships. And I guess I wish they were, at least a little, and feel sad that they aren't and won't be, at least a little.

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