mother’s day

Sunday is Mother’s Day. This year, I decided to end my relationship with my stepmother, who raised me, and my biological mother is dead. Both of these women lacked the resources or capabilities to be effective parents. My mother-in-law is amazing, but she did not raise me. And so there is a bit of an empty space where a mother should be. Most of the time, this does not feel like sadness. It feels like relief. Every year, I used to try and find a neutral card to give my stepmother. There were rows and rows of cards with pictures of flowers and heartfelt, saccharine poetry. Generally, I’d find something blank and scrawl something inside.

Dear Mom (I don’t want to call you Mom, but remember how you forced me to when I was 8?):

I don’t really know you even though we lived in the same household for many years. Please accept this candle/lotion/chocolate that I felt obligated to purchase for you. I hope the weather is satisfactory today.

Regards,

Angela

That’s what I always felt like saying, anyway.

This dumb photo of Gwyneth Paltrow and her mother made me cry one time.

gwyneth_paltrow_and_mother_blythe_danner-320x425

My friend recently lost his mother. Although I wasn’t close to my mother, and I didn’t know her very well, and I have in my possession only one photograph of us together, and I rarely think about her or cry about her, I feel that absence intensely from time to time, like  pain in an amputated limb. I am so sorry for my friend, who was close to his mother. I know the pain he must feel is 1000 times more intense than what I feel, and that there is nothing anyone can do to change any of that.

I guess what I am trying to say is that Mother’s Day, like all holidays, can be complicated.

I have two lovely boys, and I hope I know I am a good mother to them and I know I can do better. Last night, I helped Ben cast his Mario Bros. toys as characters in Hairspray (again). Mario is Link. Luigi is Corny. Princess Peach is Amber. Toadette is Tracy. I was exhausted after work, and this made me laugh and laugh. This morning, Elliott insisted he didn’t need a sweater, and I told him to step outside and see. I watched as he stood alone in the backyard and felt the breeze wash over him, squinting into the sunlight. He finally agreed to the sweater. Like me, he is stubborn. It is sometimes frustrating, but I also love that he needs to decide for himself.

I want to say thank you to these little guys for teaching me what it is to be a mother even as I am still figuring it out. I want to say thank you to them for making Mother’s Day meaningful to me, something to celebrate. And I want to say that I am sorry to those of you out there for whom this holiday is painful and complicated and nothing like the cards or commercials try to convince you to believe that it should be.

Let’s make this day, and every day, our own.

Photo credit: http://jjscholl.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/i-heart-mom/

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6 thoughts on “mother’s day

  1. my gay mom says:

    I’ve done plenty of crying today, but this is the best crying so far. Thank you.

  2. michelledowd says:

    We are, perhaps, better at providing what we know we lack. I respect your mothering so very much, and am so proud to be your friend.

  3. Michelle Tucker says:

    Thank you for sharing your words and feelings on this. It is such an awkward and painful time of year for those of us who did not get the luck of the draw on Mother’s Day. It is really something to realize you mean so little to someone you should mean so much to. As a Mother myself I can’t understand it. I was on that card search as well and only found 2, which were snarky. I chose to spend this day with my kids and celebrate our bond.
    You are awesome. Way to rise above and be who you never had to your kids. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

    • Thank you, and Happy Mother’s Day to you too! in some ways, having kids makes it even more confusing, at least initially, because you love them so much and wonder why your own mother couldn’t or didn’t.I think we should start a card company to express apathy on the holidays. 🙂

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