I'm always glad when Mother's Day is over
Like me, she finds shit on the internet that people don’t want her seeing. Let me start by saying HI MOM. DON’T CALL ME ABOUT THIS. NOTHING IS NEW HERE.
I don’t have a particularly inspiring, Hallmark and roses relationship with my mother. She is a larger-than-life force of nature with just as many moods. I am exactly like that. To give you a better idea in weather analogies: she is harsh arctic winter and I am relentless jungle heat. We have never co-existed peacefully; it was (and mostly still is, even with distance and irregular phone calls) impossible.
During my childhood, the lead-up to Mother’s Day sucked. Everyone would be excited to do the crafts – I would make them because I had to, as Catholic elementary school requires. My classmates (especially the girls) would share the brunches, movies, and gardenings that would be going on throughout the weekend with just their mothers. I would quietly be embarrassed because I spent this sacred day with my father and brothers, and then saw my grandmother after church on Sunday to celebrate only her.
Our collective Mother’s Day gift to mom was getting out of the house for most of the day so she could be alone.
It’s awkward to tell people you don’t have a good relationship with your mother…especially as an adult, in my experience. People pity you; they realize that this could be the exact reason you’re so fucked up. It doesn’t matter to them if you have a special connection with another mother-figure in your life. Your bond with your mother is strained? It’s a tragedy; you are broken. I used to think so, too.
Mother-love is difficult if you look at the full circle. It begins when you choose to be pregnant. I don't believe it ever ends for the child nor the mother, regardless of how shit the relationship is; you are stuck with a feeling you can't fully comprehend, explain, or even want to acknowledge until you both die. I'm fairly confident that's the only way to escape it. I can tell you I "love" my mom - but I don't really know how, and I don't know how to stop it. I've tried. Now I just accept she is an inescapable part of me, from the hair to the aggression to the inability to accept defeat.
Now that I’m an adult that only calls their parents when they can mentally handle it (MAYBE once a month and for no longer than fifteen minutes), my relationship with my mom is finally platonic love. It will always be there, but I don’t need to maintenance it. She is happy with me not being there, and I’m definitely ecstatic. She enjoys giving me food and food storage, I enjoy the familiar tea-drinking in the kitchen darkness, talking about tattoos, hauntings and spirituality. I enjoy not having to buy her cards or flowers and feeling bad if I forget – she doesn’t care. She just wants to be left alone.
Now that I know what living takes, it makes total sense. She’s an introvert, a homebody, and someone who never actually wanted kids. Of course, not wanting kids but having them doesn’t excuse you from the responsibility when you birth and choose to keep them, but she definitely got more than she needed when my youngest brother was diagnosed with cancer. Following this, she dealt with my dad’s inability to grow up, my middle brother’s behavioral challenges, and me growing into a louder and more demanding presence. Doesn’t sound like something you want to be around all the time, right? I can imagine her mourning, “this is exactly why I didn’t want to have kids.” And I understand.
Because of this woman and all she is and doesn’t want to be, I value my alone time. It’s sacred. I don’t have children, but I have things to take care of. She is actually the queen of self-care and being honest about your individual needs without the guilt. I can see why, at 29 with a job she liked and her own house with no help from a man since she was 16, she didn’t want to conceive me – she went all this time on her own and it was comfortable. She didn’t have to share anything before, and one accident changed all of that, adding not one being but two to her stable equation (my dad, thankfully, stuck around for the ride).
I still have that deep-seeded Mother’s Day anxiety. Many of my friends are blessed with sweet, caring angel mothers. They enjoy flowers and don’t criticize their acne upon opening the door. They’ve likely never asked for a Mother’s Day alone and certainly wouldn’t think of demanding it every year. They make me feel like an inadequate stain on womankind because I don’t celebrate this day and it makes me uncomfortable. They feel sorry for me because I have a different kind of mom. Sometimes, I still feel sorry for me for having a different kind of mom.
Every Mother’s Day, I ruminate on “my life was shitty and my mom doesn’t care about me.” This is a half-truth amplified by my anger and my guilt. It is not the whole story. Now that it’s over, I can go on social media again.
This past Mother’s Day, I saved $4 on a card that will be thrown away or destroyed by a cat in 24 hours by not buying one. I had minimal contact with friends because they’ll be having fun with their mothers. I slept a full day away, watching a show that I know I only like because I was raised by a different type of mom. Save for one post, I avoided social media. I didn’t want to cry over the sweet pictures of everyone else’s moms, smiling and happy to be with their kids. In the photo above, you can tell this woman was like, “I’m fucking tired – is Easter over yet? I can’t stand my in-laws and want to take a bath. My husband is annoying. My kid won’t shut up. At least the baby is cute and can’t talk yet.”
I know exactly that feeling, because I am made of those feelings. Now that yesterday is over, I can go back to having those feelings without wondering, “Maybe she does want me to call her?”
One of my most profound memories with my mom was standing on the subway platform, staring around at other people. We weren’t having a conversation when I asked, “Do you love us?”
She looked at me and then looked towards the coming train. There was another awkward pause until she said, “I love all of my children.” That was it.
I don’t know if she remembers that moment, but I have forcibly stuck that in my mind and pull it out as a defense when I have to clench my teeth and remember she is human like me. She makes mistakes and did the best she could. I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive some pieces (some inexcusable), but when she’s rambling on about how to make stew (that I will never make in either one of the two crock pots she’s gifted me), I know it’s her way of telling me she "loves" me and my brothers: enough to keep feeding us even though I don’t eat red meat and my brothers can’t cook.