Friday, May 10, 2013

Estranged Mother's Day

A fellow blogger reposted this quote from writer Ann Lamott regarding Mother's Day:

"I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure. The non-mothers must sit in their churches, temples, mosques, recovery rooms and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark and See’s. There is no refuge — not at the horse races, movies, malls, museums. Even the turn-off-your-cellphone announcer is going to open by saying, “Happy Mother’s Day!” You could always hide in a nice seedy bar, I suppose. Or an ER."

I have to say other than the relentless advertisements on the subject I keep forgetting Sunday is Mother's Day. Because I have no plans, no husband to celebrate me (and I guess that's a broad assumption right there, that all husbands are celebrating their wives on Sunday), and B is far too young and will be for years to acknowledge the day. On the other end I am estranged from my own mother, so no celebration there. All around an awkward day for me despite now actually being a mother. Proof that having a baby does not solve all your problems!

I don't dare hit up any friends to hang out because I'm sure they're all spending time with their normal, nurturing mothers, or their husbands and kids. So along with the daughters of dead mothers or mothers of dead or damaged daughters who feel left out on this day, can I please add Single Mothers By Choice to a Small Child Who Isn't in Preschool Yet Where He Can Make Her a Cute Card or Present Who Also Happens to Have a Very Much Alive But Completely Crazy Narcissistic Mother? Is there a section in the greeting card aisle for us? 

I'm not really complaining lest you think this is one of my self-pitying posts (right now you're probably thinking "what do you mean ONE of those posts...?"). But I have to admit it would be nice to have plans for brunch or get some flowers. I know it sounds petty. I'm just saying it would be nice.

I am fully aware of how much a thankless gig parenting is. I don't expect thanks or acknowledgement, I really don't. Not a day goes by that I don't think "my mother did this for me," as I'm wiping B's butt or cooking for him or comforting him when he's upset. Reconciling that (I'm assuming) normal mother of a young child with the impossibly self-centered woman who took over as my mother later on has been a real brain-twister for me. How, when did it happen? Or was she like so many women of her generation just trapped in a role that they would later come to resent, once society told them it was ok to resent it? 

I don't know much about how my mother was with me when I was a baby because of course I don't remember it, but I do know she fed me, wiped my butt, and got up with me when I cried in the night. She did do all those things, and for that I am grateful. I suppose I could be the bigger person and tell her that now, while she's still alive. That yes, being a mother helps me understand and empathize with her a lot more.

But there are several things I understand a lot less. Like how she could send me away to live with relatives for a whole year when I was nine, for no good reason. How she could basically abdicate all parental obligations when I was fourteen and burden my sister with me instead. How she could become such a religious zealot that she would refuse to see me for fear that my very physical presence would make her sick or even kill her, just because I don't believe. These things I'll never understand. And these are the reasons she'll be getting no card or flowers from me.

Fortunately I do have tentative plans to meet with a new SMC who wants to talk. I keep expecting her to remember it's Mother's Day and cancel, so I'm not counting on it. But if we do get together I think it will be very healing to listen to her talk about her issues and hopefully offer some encouragement. That sounds like an appropriate Mother's Day activity to me.


  1. I have a girlfriend who is a single mother (not by choice) but a few years ago I sent her flowers on Mother's Day just to make her smile. (well, I made her cry, but it was a good cry.)

    As an SMC, I think that it's so important that we recognize and appreciate....each other! Whether or not we have mothers of our own to celebrate with, this journey that we've been on is certainly worth special acknowledgement each year, IMO.

    So here is a flower from me!


    Sorry it doesn't smell pretty, but here is wishing you a very happy Mother's Day!

  2. Hugs.

    Some Mothers aren't as great as our society makes them out to be. I'm sorry yours was one of the lousier ones.

    Enjoy your day with your boy (and your friend if she makes it)!

  3. I'm definitely one who cringes when looking at the greeting card choices. I celebrate out of a need to keep the peace - let me put it that way.

    Also, Felix and I will enjoy a lovely brunch on Sunday. You and B should, too. :)

  4. I am sorry that Mother's Day has so many negatives for you. It seems that much more fuss is made of it in the US than here too. It's sad that it has become such a commercialised and exclusive thing.

    I wish you a very happy mothers day and I hope, even without the husband to give you flowers you can have a very happy day being very happy that you ARE a mother, and from what I can tell, a mighty fine one too!

    Being a mother is something that would not have been possible for us a few years ago - we should all celebrate the fact that it is possible now.

    Lots of single mum love to you and to all the other Choice Mums in the US too

  5. Happy Mother's Day!!!

    And I say, go buy YOURSELF some flowers! You deserve it! :)

  6. If I knew your address I would send you flowers. I truly would. But I agree with the above, go buy yourself flowers or pick some from your garden. Happy Mother's Day!

  7. I can relate to a lot of what you have written here! The Anne Lamott quote, the "not having anyone to celebrate you even though you are a mom now" part, and having my own mom abdicate her position leaving me with more questions, not fewer now that I'm a mom myself.

    Thanks for sharing this--glad I found your blog!