This was started yesterday when I had limited sleep and a curmudgeon-y view. So, when I read Carrie Contey’s article about communicating mother’s day wants to family to have a satisfying mother’s day, http://t.e2ma.net/message/wv6x4/so6dmv, I grumbled. I’ve had no trouble finishing up today, with sleep and a much brighter view. Perhaps my inner curmudgeon just needs to escape and dance.
I’ve never been a big fan of the Hallmark holidays. Mother’s Day was always the perfect opportunity to prove that I really was the less than adequate daughter and granddaughter. No matter how hard I tried, and there was probably a good measure of passive aggressive behavior going on, cards were late, gifts never made it, and I always picked the wrong restaurants. Then, there were the years when I was a florist and mother’s day was simply hell. Although not everyone has a sweetheart to buy overpriced roses for on Valentines Day, everyone, everyone, everyone in the world has/had a mother, and the number of “children” in need of a gift on the celebratory day is overwhelming. The beginning of those days were fun and sweet and endearing but by twilight, when the last customer of the day banged on the locked door, demanding the dozen yellow roses that had been sold out the day before, the glow of filial love was hard to be warmed by.
From the time I was pregnant with Cheshire until four years ago, David managed mother’s day activities. In Indianapolis, where we lived for a long time and where mother’s day heralded garden planting season, my perfect celebration was to shop for annuals and tomato plants the day before or the morning of the day and then to spend as much time as I could outside putting a few hundred annuals into the ground. David would cook and I think I might have had the choice of movie in the evening. David and Cheshire would give me a card or cards and probably a small gift although I have to admit that although the vision of planting is vivid in my memory, the gifts I received are not. Sorry, Cheshire, if you labored long and hard over something. Some years we went out for brunch sharing the morning with Marcia and Matthew, but mostly I loved the warm May planting day.
No! I take that back. I do remember two hand made gifts from Cheshire, one a lovely purple pillow with lace trim that she sewed; however, remembering reminds me why —
Now, I simply hate mother’s day.
I’ve held back from this admission for a few years feeling that it is rather ungrateful to complain about not being celebrated. After all, there were so many lovely, perfect celebrations and no one has an unqualified right to be celebrated. However, the day just makes me unhappy and jealous and full of worry, and these are my reasons:
~ I don’t know what other single mothers do but these last four years have demonstrated that mother’s day is really wife/partner day. It is the partner who is orchestrating — getting cards and gifts, making sure little fingers sign the cards, keeping secrets, cooking or making reservations, planning for festivities which may include naps or baths. When there is no partner, who does this?
~ As a single mom of a kid who doesn’t yet get any part of the gift giving/card making/even wishing part of mother’s day, I am more than ambivalent about reminding Julia to make me something or to wish me a happy day. Oy! That necessity to remind and prompt brings on waves of self-pity and can induce worry — will she ever be aware enough to wish me happy mother’s day?
~ Cheshire is too far away. During this time of the year, it has usually been a few months since I’ve seen her and so not having her here for mother’s day (and no, I don’t want a visit on Hallmark holidays) accentuates those missing and longing feelings. It also brings on an embarrassing bout of jealousy. Her very nice boyfriend has a very lovely family which include a mother, grandmother, aunts, etc., and it is with them that I imagine she will spend at least part of her day. Really, I am not proud of these feelings, I don’t expect her to lock herself in her house and not celebrate his mother because her own is not near, neither do I expect her to keep any celebration to herself and not tell me. It is all irrational!
~ There is no one to buy a card for. Yes, I used to complain about buying cards, but everyone to whom I owed a card to is dead. I’ve mused about celebrating my sister and friends who are wonderful mothers but I am much too mired in self-pity to take that on. I also imagine, without any real knowledge, that those friends are all surrounded by orchestrating families. Again, the self-pity is just embarrassing.
~ Finally, mother’s day reminds me that I never had a warm, loving mothering relationship. I could never bring myself to buy overly affectionate cards — perhaps not at all overly affectionate for those who have good relationships — and then felt guilty that I could not bring myself to buy the cards that my mother wanted. We were the cliche she and I — I never had to go out of my way to displease her. My choices were never hers, and deep down, I don’t think she liked me very much. Perhaps it was not personal. Which is sad but not terrible, but I still regret, just a bit, a very little bit, that I never figured out how to have a relationship with her.
So, that’s it. I’m done. With the inner curmudgeon tap dancing on a virtual table, I don’t feel half bad. And I wonder what to plan to do on Sunday.