My relationship with Mother's Day is "complicated." Like so many other holidays, it feels pushed and corrupted over time into a consumer-driven day of display without depth of understanding. I watch the expressions of appreciation scroll by and feel a twinge of guilt like I am Scrooge trying to ruin Hallmark.
Is it because of my damaged relationship with my mother? Probably. However I cannot hold the woman accountable for how I think as an adult at this stage in my life - after all, she was absent for most of it in one fashion or another. It would be unfair and untrue to blame her for everything, my process is my own.
For a number of years, we did the traditional Mother's Day routine. My kids would get up and labor through putting together breakfast in bed. There would be cards, sometimes gifts, and we would start the day with expressions of how this was "Mom's Day" and she could do what she wanted. Every year was the same - by lunchtime, I had screamed at someone, and the balance of the day would turn out to be almost no different than any other faux day off for a working mom with two kids. My day would end with a requisite phone call to my mother, who was rarely sober and even if she was would never call me first. It would be an awkward ten minutes that if I did not do, would result in an endless passive-aggressive commentary in future phone calls.
Expressions should never be forced. We allow the larger constructs to strip us of our authenticity and engage in displays of affection that are not organically driven by the reality of the relationship.
There was a reckoning here a couple of years ago. As Mother's Day drew closer I found myself irritable and disengaged when it was mentioned. I finally opened up to my family that I hated the holiday. Because it always fell apart and felt forced by the end of the day I did not feel appreciated, I felt trapped and resentful.
I hate breakfast in bed. I am a coffee gal, and I do love me some pancakes, but let me come up from the privacy of my rest and decide when I want to engage with my day. Make the meal and invite me to join you. Allow the rich smells to come up to my room and the laughter from the kitchen pull me toward you - don't push through the door one day a year and call it even.
People ask me if I miss my mother. The answer is no, I do not miss my mother - but I do miss what could have been my mother. In the crazy rollercoaster of our addiction-riddled relationship, the one thing I always wanted from her is the one thing I could never have - her friendship. I know she loved me in her own way, I do. I didn't want to send her flowers one day a year, I wanted to be able to call her every day. I wanted to be able to ask her advice, share with her my fears and joys, understand her better or relate to her things that I was learning how to do, how to be. I just wanted us to be friends. She could never do it, so we had to fake it for the sake of I-don't-know-why. I don't want to fake it with my kids.
I will always be their mother, but the time is coming when our relationship must change -
when I will have to let them go into the river and allow them to navigate themselves toward their own goals and purpose. They are such amazing humans, I don't ever want to be discarded or closed off from them because of my own hubris or selfish needs.
I will always be their mom, but I can't wait to be their friend.
Mother's Day is different here now. I don't get breakfast in bed, but if I want to have pancakes or go out to eat, I just say the word (after I get up). My son bought me a small box of my favorite candy, proving that he can do it without prompting and the fact that he paid attention and knows what my favorite candy is. My daughter and I went out and ran a few errands, where she showed me comics that make her laugh and we talked about things we noticed and just spent time together. I took a nap because it felt good. We ate burgers lakeside and cracked jokes. I swung on my porch swing in the weak spring sunlight of an Alaskan evening, drinking hot tea and watching the dogs play in the yard. I don't get a card unless it's homemade or is a vehicle for something personal written inside. My family is under no pressure and neither am I. I know they love me, and I know they appreciate me.
I know this because tomorrow ... will be more of the same as today.