Sunday, May 11, 2008

The mother of all days

Wishing you an enjoyable Mothers Day with yours and if you have children, I am sure you'll have had your head sat on and the covers thrown back and bouncing with the glee of something exciting being in the air today... even when they're trying so hard to give you a sleep-in on the one day of the year you won't feel *too* guilty for it.

Mothers Day. Huh. What a day. It's always been rather uncomfortable as a day for me. I was raised to view Mothers Day as THE most important day of the year for my mum. Until her birthday came around at the end of the year and then THAT day was THE most important day of the year to her. It took me a few years to cotton on that she was making a fuss and ensuring we all made a fuss of her on two days. Hell, more power to her, right? I would have given her anything I could if it would just make her happy (I know, I tried). Strange thing is, being an adult now myself and knowing how adults function/think/work somewhat, I see now that she needn't have laid it on so thick - all the "you bloody kids can't give me just ONE day where I feel special" - because we were all pretty much on deck with the innate sense of needing to tiptoe and be on the alert for any sign of a meltdown anyway. There was no way we'd have done anything to fuck up either of those days.

But invariably, despite being at our peak good behaviour and doing all within our power as kids, there'd be an excuse for an explosive fight with someone (usually Dad or an older sibling).

By 2000, I had painfully made the choice to remove myself from my mother's life. She was barely in it, having created the kind of relationship with me (and every other person in her life from what I gather) that served only her. That sounds harsh, doesn't it? If you've never met anyone in your life, let alone a mother (who at her height of child rearing did an absolutely outstanding job of nurturer, she was the most gentle and soft, loving person and nobody could have raised me better, she was gorgeous when I was very young) who is narcissistic and doesn't know it... you haven't met anyone with a mental disorder. My mum has several. Undiagnosed effectively - but the nearest one to accurate appears to be Borderline Personality Disorder (which most often goes hand in hand and, therefore, masked with another mental disorder such as Bipolar, of which she also has many traits that seem familiar to that disease) so we as a family have never been properly skilled or guided in how to manage it with and for her. The rest of the family still in contact with her do their very best and I do not envy them the task at all.

I did the best thing for my survival and removed myself quietly and without fuss from her world eight years ago. I have twice been to counselling over my decision and the angst it created and have been told by two different therapists that they are glad I made this move and that, for now, it is still the best thing to do.

This flies in the face though, doesn't it, of the mother daughter relationship? This creates a myriad personal stumbling blocks for me as I now raise my own daughter - especially when I hear the marks of my mother's teachings coming out in me (which I have been reminded to see the flip-side of and recall also all the wonderful things my mother has given me, so I focus on the times mostly before I hit puberty and it all started going to shit with her mental health).

And it means Mothers Day is piled with a lot more stuff than just a happy day now with my child. For me, I have the added memories of the Mothers Days I spent as a mother but without a child here. I still had the invitations from family to go and spend it with them - and their children, some of them babies very close in age to Ella - but how could possibly? For I was no longer the child, already seeing Mothers Day as being tainted; I was also now mother. But neither of those memories offered any emotional protection from the day. In 2004 and 2005, MD's were just hollowed-out days that were so painful and lonely and blatantly in my face about my position, while everywhere I saw reminders that people were having theirs (and many of them probably complaining, like the woman I heard yesterday at the mall, yelling at her adolescent kids about the arrangements for today... I am sure I will be kindred with her in ten years' time, it's certainly possible, but I'm not there now and so it's very hard for me to see something like that and not think perhaps she's missing the big picture outside her own front door). In saying that, in those years I couldn't see past my own hurts far enough to remember and realise there were others hurting too. Something I can safely say I am well aware of now. In many things I do, I realise somebody is not experiencing this with their child (for instance) so I am able to give thanks as I go, daily, for what I have and everything that I have experienced to shape my days today.

So anyway. Not only am I missing one of my children, I have this added history of Mothers Day memories past - when some of my most brutal emotional hurts from my mother were administered, in later years played out in front of my new inlaws, which horrified and saddened me further - and it's just a really hard day.

I realise this is a really bittersweet day for so many of you. Whether you are remembering a mum who you thought would always be here to give milky cups of tea to today or whether one of your big heartstrings is tethered to your child who will never be here for the rest of your own Mothers Days to share it with. Or, indeed, whether you have made the gut-wrenching social taboo decision to forego the relationship with your mother for the safety and survival of yourself and your own family now (possibly the hardest for others to fully understand and justify to anybody who hasn't had to do this for their own reasons too).

So in solidarity with those who have issues or a little underlying melancholy on Mothers Day, for whatever reason.... I say, may you have a gentle easy ride today and feel the warmth of all your loved ones (here and not here) surrounding you.

Archived Posts


Related Posts with Thumbnails