Can We Just Skip Mother's Day

I miss my mom.  She lives far away these days and while technology and airplanes make life more manageable for those we miss, I miss her every day. I miss being able to just go over there and hang out with her. I took it for granted when she was close by for so long and I was a dummy.  Only after I had my own kids did I realize how much I wanted her close and now she's not any longer. It kind of stinks.

Can we just skip Mother's Day? I know, I know, I'm a monster, but just hear me out.

There's this anxiety that creeps up every May. Anxiety and dread. Doom and gloom. But also great profound joy and gratitude. I get to be a mom. I got the dream, right? But I will always remember when I didn't have all this. I mean being a mom is a dream and a nightmare all at once. It really is. There are too many terrible things that can happen and do happen and it all feels like you're going to die from the weight of it, but you don't. Hopefully.

I really don't enjoy any holidays that are all, you must celebrate this particular person on this particular day because we say so and we will non-stop barrage you with ads and songs and talking about it until you feel really lousy with expectations that can't possibly be met and possibly so much sadness at what you don't have in your life that you'll want to hide in a corner and cry. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Many women DO NOT want to be mothers and gods bless them because now that I am one I do have moments of reflection on when I didn't have ALL THIS. It's so so much all the way around. Every minute of every day I feel my heart beating outside my chest about these babies and that will never ever go away now. Many women DO want to be moms and never see that dream realized for various reasons. Many lose their babies, their children, their dreams without ever asking for it and life is not fucking fair at all.

This relationship with our mothers is supposed to be sacred. That's the line we are fed. Full of support and if not unconditional - close to it - love.  All the ads tell us that it is sweet and kind and gentle and full of grace and for a lot of folks it actually is. I am one of those people. I have the dream mom.

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I, on the other hand, am NOT the dream mom. And I'll never be the dream mom. Which is actually just fine by me. Ask my kids years from now how I did and I hope they can just say we never ever doubted her love and belief in us.

It is a field full of landmines. The joy and pain of Mother's Day is all around us. I see it in my friends and family and strangers all around me.

I will never forget when I was a kid, going to church on Mother's Day. As we entered, they would hand out a flower to every woman who looked like she was of mothering age. That often struck me as odd because surely not all these women were mothers. My mom had a friend who didn't have children, but wanted to, and they gave her a flower. I suppose you could respond simply with thank you and be full of grace about it, but if it were me when I was trying to conceive those years? It would've twisted the knife in my heart a tad.

There are two vital monumental things at play here:

  1. The relationship we have with our own mothers.
  2. The relationship we have if we are mothers or trying to be mothers.

I miss my mom.  She is here with us but far away and I miss her. But I know somewhere down the line - unless somebody creates an immortality pill and really let's not ever do that - she won't be here and that thought is crossing my mind far more often as I watch friends losing their moms. It's happening more and more and it's not going to slow down and that makes my heart turn somersaults.

Celebrating Mother's Day away from my mom makes me incredibly sad. Couple that with how much I love being a mom to my two kids and I'm a sloppy mess. But that happens every single day.

I have too many friends watching their moms die and not being ready. Life seems so long and then when it's over it seems like it went by in a blink. My friends are grieving and I grieve with them.

I have a friend who has such a destructive abusive relationship with her mother that she's done the hard work of disassociating herself with her and while you can detach with love, that want of a mother doesn't go away. I have a desire to mother people who are in want of mothering. I don't care how old they are, I want to mother.

I have a friend whose kids have cut her off. Who is in so much pain for mistakes she's made and she's trying to get her life together but it's going to take a long time to heal that broken trust. A long time. And all of it is so painful.

I have a friend who has been trying to conceive for YEARS. She's been trying long before I went through IVF and she still carries hope that the next one will stick. I wish her all the pineapple in the world to make that happen.

I have a friend who went through the adoption process and for anyone who thinks that if you can't conceive you should just adopt because it's so easy and there are many kids out there who need good homes, I urge you to dig deeper. It is not easy. It is not inexpensive. It is not without it's own pain and grief and highs and lows that can oftentimes last a lifetime.

I have TOO GD MANY friends who have watched their children die from cancer or sickness.  TOO GD MANY.

I have a few friends who were adopted themselves and I've watched them search for their birth mothers and sometimes the story turns out like a fairy tale, but most of the time, it doesn't. Being faced with reality can often bring even more pain, but as I watch these women search and dig and learn about where they came from, I admire their strength and their vulnerability in taking that step enormously.

I have a few - yes a few - friends who have seen gun violence kill their babies. No mom should ever have to go through that.

I have friends for whom mental illness has taken them away from each other. Never to be heard from in sound mind again.

I have friends who have lost their moms to alcoholism or addiction and it is enormously painful to think they picked that over them. I give you no excuses, I only say that alcoholism and addictions robs entire families.

I have friends who have lost their children to alcoholism and addiction. It happens all the time. Another case of "this should never happen" and yet here we are. Moms in pain.

I have friends who have children that have brought them monstrous issues that they deal with day in and day out and while they wouldn't trade it for the world, they wish just for a second that they could have a break. A normal routine. I hear the exhaustion and then the guilt that follows that and all I can do is wrap loving arms around them and help as much as I can.

I have mom friends who have had postpartum depression or have it now and don't want to talk about it. People think you shouldn't ever feel anything negative when you get to have a baby because YOU GET TO HAVE A BABY. Well I'll tell you I was depressed and scared as hell when my babies were newborns.  I didn't realize how bad it was until later - after I was out of the haze. But I didn't fully admit to anyone how bad I actually felt pretty much the whole first 6 months. Now part of that is the hell on wheels that baby twins brings about, but also it goes much deeper and I believe, to some degree impacts just about every woman we know who has a baby.

 

There's a lot of pain out there. A lot. It's all too damn much.

 

But there is also enormous joy. Big huge enormous joy about mothering and those relationships. There are many folks out there mothering who are not technically mothers, but I see you. Caregivers and teachers and helpers in all the ways we need help. Aunts and relatives who give their time and love to our kids. I see you. I celebrate you. 

I get to be a mom. I GET TO BE A MOM.

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And part of the reason - a great big reason - that I do is because I have a mom who never gave up on me. She has had to do some of the hardest things a mom should never have to do. She had to watch her daughter go through madness in order to come out the other side.  And often times that never happens. She is my cheerleader and I am hers. I am one of those folks who keep saying if my kids feel about me the way I feel about my mom? I will be pleased as punch.

I am in head over heels absolutely painful it is so big and powerful love with my children and with being a mom. I had been waiting my whole life for this. For them. And I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the whole world but with them. I was ready. I am ready. And as I make mistakes and lose my patience, I know that they love me big. Like a house. Oh how they love.

Having said all that, I'm still in favor of just skipping Mother's Day. But of course we aren't allowed to escape all of it, right? I for one, am looking forward to whatever they've made me with their blood and sweat and glitter glue and little fingers. I want to feel that love and give it back in return. I'm the mama. And I love being the mama more than anything in the world. I am not that big of a monster,  you see.

All holidays are hard for me. I'm away from my family, I have anxiety or just cannot do it, and I am a recovering alcoholic. It's hard. As I often say about Christmas or some of the other days that seem to bring enormous pressure to perform or be something or feel something you don't necessarily feel, it is just one day. It is 24 hours. And I know it seems to last forever, but just remember what folks in recovery have told me over and over again about not drinking - it's just 24 hours. We can do anything for 24 hours, right?

Remember,

Not all women want to be moms.

Not all moms want to be moms.

Not all women who want to be moms get to be moms.

Not all women have good relationships with their own moms.

Not all moms have good relationships with their kids.

Be gentle with yourselves and those around you. As always, you have someone out here who is thinking of you and holding your hand. I honor your pain and your gratitude and I am holding space for you. On Mother's Day and every day.

See also:

The mental load of motherhood is heavier than laundry

I never wanted kids

Life after Infertility

Letter to a new mom

Dear Mom - I Get it Now

Being a mom means

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