The Mother’s Day Twist
Mother’s Day….where to start? How about with my favorite picture, which never gets old!
I have traditionally held Mother’s Day for myself….mothering 5 kids and feeling owed a day dedicated to the effort it takes, to raise somewhat decent humans and remain sane doing it. Fair enough, right?
Mother’s Day is for mom’s, a role that has had me in its grips for over 24 years. 10 of those years, I was either pregnant or nursing. 4 of those years, were riddled with working nightshifts as a single mom, so yes….this day is for me….about ME….and I should be spoiled and recognized in queenly fashion, without guilt or sacrifice for 24 hours.
For those who celebrate this day with women who have toughed out a raging battle of raising kids, I salute you, all day, EVERY day. For those who have chosen not to parent, or cannot parent, I hope this day meets you with the gentlest of intention toward ladies who show up each day to nurture the little beings who become our future world.
What surprises me, is realizing after dedicating 52 weeks of writing and reflection to my Mum, how little I think about her on this day. Now don’t get me wrong, I fiercely miss this lady and think about her more than daily, so Mother’s Day has not been any trickier to navigate than any other day without her. I also have not had to plan or purchase anything special in over 27 years, which is most of my adulthood, but when I see her in my mind, she is the ultimate Queen Bee!
Sweet Hubby spoils his own darling momma without my assistance, so she is taken care of each year. I was never close to my ex-mother-in-law, mostly due to the strained, unhealthy nature of her relationship with my ex, he deeming her competence level on par to cleaning our toilets….despite her Master’s Degree and being a successful college/university professor.
I was not permitted to be comfortable in her presence, so we did not bond, despite her desire to be an engaging Grandma. I feel her heartache this Mother’s Day; Being at volatile odds with a son who does not want you near his children. Watching a daughter-in-law wither under severe expectations and consequences….knowing there is little you can do to protect the babies coming into this conflict. If her mind were not caught in a semi-permanent dream world, I would have questions for her now….like:
*How did you cope with the hurt of separation from your children/grand-children?
*What kind of engagement worked? What did not work?
*If you could take one thing back that you said or did, that seemed to make things worse, what would it be?
I also owe her an apology. You see, when in the throes of surviving my daily moments, I believed the lies he told about her character. She was a snake in the grass. Lying to him about what was in the food she cooked, who she was giving money to, and other family related issues that were NONE of his business.
He made it his business. He would slip away into her room or office, read her personal mail, go through banking and tax documents, then ask questions to corner her into answering….a pattern I knew well….questions she had every right to refuse answering, but when someone is relentless in their pursuit, you will say almost anything to make them quit.
She did not lie to conceal things he was entitled to know. She did not need to justify her decisions to an over-reaching adult child….my Dad taught me that. This lady raised 5 children, cared for her aging mother, still fed and included a husband she did not live with, was helping to raise 6 grandchildren when I met her, and still had one child at home finishing university. This is not a feeble lady.
Capable. Inspired. Generous.
This is who I saw, when looking through my own eyes, but I did not get to know her.
So many hurts and unpleasantness were exchanged in the 14 years of chaos, between her and him….between him and his sisters….I was caught in the middle of wanting to reach out and be part of their family, and needing to endure my own. Since his side was not optional, they were the enemy, a condition that continues to be a barrier, 12 years after peace has been established.
Am I looking at my future? Grandbaby #2 just turned one, sharing the same birthdate of a Great Grandpa she may never get to meet, so he prays daily for her protection and care. I have very little contact with her, walking on unsteady lines, trying to balance the needs of an innocent babe, while navigating polarized opinions on what my level of engagement should be….and at the same time, defending the questionable motivations assumed by a son with whom I would very much like to have a connection.
Maybe dementia is a blessing for weary warriors, erasing the constant pain of lost relationships during final ‘earthly’ years. Perhaps that is the brain’s way of rewarding great sacrifice; Living content last days, oblivious to the pattern of erosion repeated in the lives of those they tried to love.
My heart sinks. DEEP.
It was 12 years ago I decided the cycle would no longer be part of our story. It took more sacrifice….effort….creativity….awareness….and patience….to finish raising my kids without using fear and intolerance, when all they had previously experienced was a punitive style of parenting.
My kids are all ‘officially’ adults now, yet I am still searching out how to be a better mom, staying apprised of the research and strategies employed by parents who seek a greater understanding. I find it strange when I am canvassed for advice on parenting challenges. I laugh and suggest they consider my diverse record of parenting success.
I guess some people believe there is good stuff to be gleaned from my family saga; Perhaps that is true. Yet, here it is. The Cycle. Working its way through our lives….popping around again in a way that seems unavoidable….inevitable.
How long does it go on? When do the innocents initially caught in this malignant disease, find the strength to heal and liberate themselves? How do I mother that healing in 5 dynamically different humans? Will it happen during my lifetime? Will the suffering of separation continue no matter what choices we make? Will it send me into a permanent place of forgetting, numbing the joy along with the pain?
This Mother’s Day, I welcome celebration….but not for me. On this day, I am looking for clarity and wisdom, from those who have gone before and for those who are upcoming. The mothers of the kids who leave home too soon, or stay too long. The mothers of children who test every limit, or need support for each step. The mothers of youth who pursue relationship, or run from connection.
The hardest thing about not having Mum today, is not being able to talk about these parenting pains. I cannot relate my current mom status with historic personal experience, since Mum and I did not have the chance to transition from teenage AJ relationship, to adult AJ.
Even if Mum had nothing wise to share with me now, I must believe she would have made it feel better. Maybe that is all I can do for my kids, now that it is up to them to create a meaningful life for themselves and their children.
Rest assured, this peaceful warrior will stay vigilant. Hope does not have a deadline.
I am trusting Love to elevate the lowest, sunken heart, restoring all that has been lost.