Mothers Day….ah, the joy and celebration. Love and hugs and warm fuzzy feelings abound. Retailers are making a mint. Kids are burning breakfast and pouncing on their mothers’ beds in the wee hours with handmade cards, hugs, and kisses. The Hallmark Channel is playing sappy mom-themed movie marathons for the week prior.
All the while there are throngs of people who avoid the holiday at all costs. There are those who duck and hide, avoid the greeting card aisle or shopping altogether, or sequester themselves at home dreading the ring of the telephone or doorbell. While the masses celebrate there is a portion of society that mourns, grieves, avoids, or cocoons its collective mind in an insular hideaway.
Though many choose not to embrace the holiday because they grieve the loss of a beloved mom, others make the decision for vastly different reasons. Outside of the idealistic fantasy that all moms are the moms the greeting cards celebrate, is a reality in stark contrast. Some mothers are narcissistic, manipulative, mean as hell, or abusive. Many are absent, neglectful, or simply emotionally hard. Some withhold the basics in life, nurturing, and affection. A percentage are active addicts or alcoholics. Many birthed children and are technically mothers, but leave the children to raise themselves for all intents and purposes. Other mothers give their children away or have had them taken away. A select few are just plain toxic. From the perspective of many of the adult children who came from households with such mothers there is little reason to celebrate Mothers Day. It is those people who either cry or want to puke in the Hallmark aisle.
This year my own card-shopping experience made me think more deeply than usual about my own mother. She is not perfect, nor is she horrible. As a young mother I, like most young moms, tried to glean the good I remembered about my own mom’s mothering and avoid the negative. That statement alone opens up a can of worms. What was good and what was bad in my childhood experience as it relates to mothering? What is my mother’s perspective about that same question? On the other hand, do my adult children think I did well or poorly as their mom? How do I think I did? Every mother fails daily to some degree. Not every mother sees her failings or victories the same as her children view them.
The fact is we are each the owners of our own experience. We may have had other actors alongside us in life’s play, but each of us has a different take-away from our experiences. If you ever doubt this just commiserate about a childhood experience at a holiday meal. In our family each of us siblings have a different recollection of our experiences…and our parents’ version is different enough to make our collective eyes roll back in our heads. Most of the time these differences in perception of shared experiences is simply comedic fodder. For some, however it is serious business and for others it is devastatingly painful.
That being said, it lends the question: What if we, as mothers, received in our old age only the measure of love, affection, kind and harsh words, and attention from our adult children that they believe we gave them when they were kids? What if we were dealt a like hand in our twilight years to what we dealt our children in their youth? Some of us would live out our old age in bliss while others of us would have a miserable existence.
If you either no longer have your mom on this earth, or cannot find a reason to celebrate your own mom…..the next time Mothers Day rolls around try to celebrate someone else’s mom. Was there someone who was there in your mother’s stead? Celebrate that person. If your own mother was great but you have hurting people in your life, support them through this emotionally difficult day by acknowledging their experience, listening to them, and loving them. Plant positive words and deeds where negative emotion abounds. It will do them good and work wonders for you as well.