It’s Mother’s Day. As you all know, I’ve had problems with this day for years; it’s been a problem for me since I was young. But I’m not the only one who has a problem with this day: Libby Anne sums it up nicely. Go and read, because her post is great. But a few passages really struck me, so I’ll post them here.
If Mother’s Day was something people could celebrate if they wanted to without everyone else feeling obligated to participate as well, I might feel different about the holiday. But it’s not. Instead, everyone is expected to honor and praise their mother on Mother’s Day, whether they feel she did anything worthy of praise or not. And if you don’t, well, you must be selfish and ungrateful—terms we often use for children but rarely for mothers. Think about that for a moment.
We talk a lot about the love mothers have for their children. We talk very little about how cruelly mothers can treat their children, or about the fact that some mothers don’t love their children at all, or are only capable of a selfish, twisted love. On Mother’s Day, we spend a lot of time talking about the power of motherhood, as though that power were somehow automatically and universally good.
Yes, motherhood is powerful—but that power has a dark side. Few people can hurt a person more than their mother.
I can’t tell you exactly why I was born. I know the date and that date was three years after my half-brother was taken and placed for adoption. Realistically, I was conceived a little more than two years after the surrender. Because of this, I have been forced to ask myself if my mother actually wanted me or if she wanted a child to fill the gap in her soul.
I don’t have an answer to that question. I probably never will. Even though my mother has said multiple times, “We wanted you,” there will always be some small, nattering doubts in my mind.
This is how that sort of thing–the things that happen before you exist–can affect you when you learn about them. Survivor guilt is never pretty. I discovered that firsthand. So now, Mother’s Day has gone from being a day that feels slightly awkward to one that can actually depress me. Instead of feeling weird or off when I see a Mother’s Day card, I feel empty and hollow now. I feel dejected. Rather than feeling happy, the day brings only melancholy.
But I’m not the only one. Others have felt the same. The fact that I’m not alone, that I’m not “crazy”, does give me some small measure of reassurance. Which is what I am here to tell you: if you have a great relationship with your mother, great! Take her out to brunch, do something special, enjoy the day together. If not, if your mother was one of those who happened to be abusive or manipulative, remember that this wasn’t your fault. You don’t have the option to pick your parents. You also have the option to not celebrate today if it brings you no joy. Life is too short to spend it in misery. Remember that.
I “play” nice as to not be spun into the bad guy and send a card, but damn it’s hard to find one that doesn’t say stuff like “inspiration”, “love”, or “thank you” which are words I would not use to describe my childhood or mother. I like Mother’s Day now only because of my wife and the kids get a kick outta it.
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Yeah, I know the feeling. It’s not a good one. =/
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