Mother’s Day: One of the Hardest Days of the Year

There are a few days that I dread each year. My birthday is one; Mother’s Day is another. Sometimes I acknowledge it, I reach out to friends who are wonderful mothers and give them a shout out. I do know some amazing mothers… but they’re not mine.

My mother is still living, but we don’t talk. That’s my choice, and the healthiest one I can make. It’s not just me who thinks so, but every therapist I have ever worked with. And several friends.

For me a typical day with my mother included: being beaten; refused food; called a “piece of shit” and other expletives several times every hour; being given an impossible list of tasks to complete while she’d hover and tell me how I was doing them wrong, not be allowed to sleep until they were done; kept home if bruising was an issue and so on.

As an adult, my mother really hadn’t changed, at least not since I last spoke to her in 2012. She could no longer beat me or starve me, but she still tried to tear me down every chance she had. She would still berate me and treat me like crap. She would get into my head.

On the day I was married, she tried to assault our photographer and refused to allow my sister who was our flower girl to be in any pictures. She also started a strike and threatened a few relatives until they agreed to leave the reception early, before cake or any of that. That was the last day I saw her or even acknowledged her. I had a choice to make. She was toxic and I could allow her to continue to poison my life, which would inevitably spill over into my marriage and the family we hoped to create, or I could take heart to what every single therapist and several friends urged me to do, and cut the cancer out.

I miss her. It’s not like cutting her out stops that. I’m human. Cutting out your mother feels like going against biology and a very primal need and longing. It’s still the right thing, it might even be the only thing, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt or it isn’t hard. Sometimes I think that people believe that it isn’t, just because I don’t waver.

I don’t waver because I know it’s right, it’s healthy. It doesn’t mean I don’t waver emotionally, I don’t question or reassess constantly. But even if what I want changes, what I need doesn’t. And that’s the thing about being an adult, the main thing actually. You do what you need to do, even if you don’t want to. Even if you think it might kill you. You realize that need will always trump wanting something, and that the two are often at odds. Adulting is addressing need, even when need gets in the way of what you want or wish.

So Mother’s Day is always hard, but this one seems even harder than usual. I think it’s because it’s the first year without certain mothers in our lives. Part of me wants to do something to take the edge off the day, but my husband and I are both so tired, sleep-deprived, stressed in general and have a lot going on, I wonder if that would be a mistake.

Sunday is the only day we have to try to sleep in. My husband will probably sleep until evening, if I’m lucky I’ll sleep until noon. (I am never able to sleep late, but Sundays seem to be the sole exception. Noon is probably as late as I can ever sleep, even if I don’t go to bed until dawn.) Maybe a picnic would be nice, or going to a movie. I would say a day trip or something because both of us feel great taking a hike, going to Estes Park or Evergreen – just getting out, being us without the rest of the world trying to worm its way in between us. But I also think that being Mother’s Day, these places will be absolute zoos. And it wouldn’t make much sense to go to one of these places in the evening.

Maybe I should just let it be. Pretend it’s any other Sunday. If it was just me, that’s what I would do. Make it any other day. But I know this will also be a hard day on my husband, so I’m wondering if I should do something to distract him or if I should just encourage him to sleep the day away.

I am all for appreciating the people who matter to us. I think mothers in general, are such unsung heroes. They love, nurture, care for, protect, and shape their children. I’m sure if I had a maternal figure I would feel differently, but having an official holiday makes it so much harder on people like me. People who have lost their mothers in life, who don’t know their mothers or don’t have one, people who do have one, but it would have been better if they didn’t, and even mothers who have lost children. Having a day on a calendar, seeing Hallmark shove it in everyone’s faces, stores and businesses mention it, TV programs having “Mother’s Day” episodes, it just makes the whole thing harder.

I feel like good mothers should have more than just a single day each year. And for those of us who suffer through Mother’s Day, if everyone just celebrated the mothers in their lives without it having to be marked on a calendar… I don’t know. I’m rambling, my thoughts are rambling. I just wish this time of year didn’t have to be so hard. And I know I’m not the only one.

It’s just a day. I get that, but it’s also so much more than that. And I don’t think many people understand this fact. It’s just a day, but it’s also so much more. And it’s the “more” that gets me every time.

-DMW

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