|My sister, Liz, took this gorgeous photo of my gorgeous mom recently.|
I am lucky. I have a truly wonderful mother. She is kind, she is generous, she is forgiving. She is funny, she is wise, she is loving. She's a hard worker, she's a great cook and she's always up for a new adventure. I have absolutely no complaints, mom-wise. My only regret is not being a better daughter because she deserves it.
Not everyone is so lucky and, in fact, Mother's Day can be a rough go for a lot of people.
There are people who had terrible mothers. Really horrid women who abused their children mentally and physically. Who told them they were no good and beat them viciously any chance they could. Who didn't provide proper food or shelter, who cared more about themselves than their kids, who held back love and kindness when it was most needed.
I know a few people like that, and I feel sorry for them and guilty because my own mom was top flight. They struggle hard to see good in their mothers, sometimes to no avail, and they harbour their own guilt for abandoning the most toxic relationships in their lives. After all, how can anyone dislike their own mother? If you find yourself thinking that, then you're one of the lucky ones. You might not have June Cleaver for a mama, but at least you don't have Mommie Dearest.
Then there are people who had great mothers, but lost them. Death is a tough nut to swallow on these special occasions. Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, birthdays – they're all hard to take when you are missing someone you love. Father's Day is hard for me because I miss my dad so much, and I never get through Christmas or his birthday without some kind of heartache. But you know, instead of feeling bad, I try to seek out the positive and celebrate that. Yes, he's gone, but boy oh boy, I was lucky to have him as long as I did and I continue to honour his memory every chance I get.
Mother's Day is also a tough day for women who always wanted to be mothers but, for one reason or another, could never have a baby. They mourn for the children they never had, for the unborn babies they lost, for the mother they desperately wanted to be – while all around them are mothers and children and pregnant women.
I didn't have my first baby until I was 37, and not because I wanted to wait. It took me 11 years to conceive, and for those 11 years, I keenly felt the frustration, jealousy and grief of being childless in a child-filled world. To those who have never been able to have children, I feel your pain, and offer a hug and a kind word – AND the truth that you will live your life with more money, less frustration and fewer grey hairs!
Mother's Day used to be rough for me. It was hard when I was childless, for all the reasons I listed, above. Then it was really awesome for a while – I finally had my two children and I gleefully joined in MD celebrations. Breakfast in bed! Flowers! Cards! Presents! I sucked it all up enthusiastically – trust me, labour is HARD and flowers/breakfast/presents are the LEAST kids can do to make up for it!
Mother's Day took a turn for the worse when my marriage broke up and main custody went to my ex-husband. (If you want to know why, you have to buy my book! I'm tired of telling my sorry tale!) Suddenly I felt like the worst mother in the world. And now I live half a country away from my kids. What kind of a mother am I, anyway? And what kind of a Mother's Day do my kids have, when their mother abandoned them? The reasons, and they are good reasons, can't matter to two kids whose mother has buggered off three provinces away. It must suck for them, plain and simple, and don't think I don't know it.
I don't mourn on Mother's Day anymore. I send my own mother and my mother-in-law presents. I phone my mom and tell her I love her. I find something fun to do and I don't beat myself up over something I have no control over. Dave usually takes me out for dinner, which is awesome, and I look for joy every chance I can.
I got a card from my boys a few days ago. It was nice – put a smile on my face and a tear in my eye all at the same time. They called last night and we laughed when I ordered them to tell me what a wonderful mother I am. (I love them so much.)
No matter how Mother's Day and these other kind of holidays may try to bring you down, don't let them. They're only card company fake holidays anyway.
Forgive the past. Celebrate what's important. Eat something yummy and do something fun. Look for joy. Look for joy.
Look for joy.