When it’s not so terrible after all.
It’s Mother’s day here in Australia today. And well it’s one of those days that for years I have absolutely dreaded. It’s been a day of deeply mixed emotions for so many years. My relationship with my own mother was always one spotted with abuse and pain, and it always felt like I was playing some game of pretending she was the best human in the world when in reality, she really sucked.
I am not of course talking about a mother who just stuffs up sometimes, or tries and fails to support their kids in the way they need it. No, I’m talking about a mother who was my abuser, enabler of my abuser, and never able to take responsibility or acknowledge that anything she did when it came to parenting me was in error, ever.
This was a woman that beat me senseless in fits of rage, a woman who hit me so hard with wooden spoons that they broke over my naked bottom, a woman who would throw or shove me across rooms in unbridled rage and then proclaim statements like “now look what you’ve made me do”.
I bear a few small scars on my body as mementoes of the rage and temper with which this person executed their abuse on me. They serve as reminders of what it was like to live through, and, in some sense, momentoes of survival.
In my teenage years and early adulthood, my mother wore a jumper with the words “because I’m the mum, that’s why”, it pictured two bears an adult bear and a child bear. I am sure its creator could not have envisioned that such a thing would be a reminder of trauma, and a reinforcement that I could never, whilst in any kind of relationship with the wearer, have any true autonomy over myself.
So, when Mothers day comes around each year, my psyche, has that to deal with. Of course, it’s not just as simple as that. And for reasons of my own safety, security and autonomy I went No Contact with this woman quite some years ago. It was an important thing to do, no matter how I longed, how I hoped and prayed, or how I desired, it became clear that this woman, would always remain a toxic and dangerous influence as long as they were involved in my life.
Of course, each year, I get a twinge of longing, I guess that’s to be expected.
Throughout all my adult years, well, since the age of 24 when my eldest child was born, the day has had more meaning than just the awful horrid shit that was my relationship with my mother. It had another side to it. A side that was always hopeful somehow redeeming the day.
I suppose you could say there were some years where it was more successful and others. As a late to transition trans woman, I am sure there are complexities in all of that still to be considered and reflected on, but for every year until this year, I was not the mother, I was playing the role of the Father, how that ends up being interpreted and so on is an ongoing journey of course, but needless to say, as a parent to my kids, for the majority of years, my ideal, has been to focus not on the horror of my mother but on making a nice and good day for my children’s mother.
The complexity is deeper too as I have three kids through two women. Over the 24 years of being a parent, for the most part, has been a desire to make a great day for the mothers of my kids. A few years ago that changed somewhat when the mother of my youngest became effectively the only real mother my elder kids could rely on, as their mother abandoned them in favour of a horribly abusive man.
But, I just wanted the day to be a good day for their mum. I don’t really know how well I did in the endeavour of doing this. It was always, it seemed to me at any rate, a dismal failure because the pain of my own experiences just got in the way and wrecked everything for everyone.
This year, it’s been different. Unexpectedly different in an emotional sense. Whilst I am a woman, I have not really been in the role of mother to my kids. How that will be in years to come, is, I suppose, an open question, but to this point, even as it seems they accept me as I transition, the thinking of me, treating me and experience of me is not a motherhood one.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect at all. I made a choice, sort of a conscious one, and sort of not so much, that I just wouldn’t make much of the day. I texted my older kids, to make sure they were doing something for my ex-partner, they confirmed it. And pretty much left it at that.
I made a choice to just let it be like any other day. And you know what, it’s kind of turned out that way too. I did send a text message to my ex to wish them a happy mother’s day, and then I left it at that. I spent the day at church and lunching with friends. And, I am genuinely surprised, that it has pretty much been a not so bad day after all.
It’s even had some nice bits where at church they gave all parents a gift. I go to an LGBTQIA+ affirming church and am not the only trans or gender divergent member, and so it was a nice caring touch. Well, I have touched anyway.
Without a shadow of a doubt, this has to be the first mothers day I can remember that hasn’t been an abysmal horrible day. There have been years when it’s been due to me stuffing it up, not just for me but the mothers of my kids, there have been years where it’s been horrid simply from trying to pretend my mother was not the monster that she is. There have been years that have been something of both.
So this year, it’s turned out to be a not so bad day after all. And I even got a text back from my ex-partner thanking me for the message and informing me of how our youngest child had gotten her a whoopee cushion as a gift.
I do hope this is the beginning of a new era of mothers days that are not such bad days after all.
And to all, you mums out there that really do, do your very best, pour yourself out each day, go the extra mile and love with never ending passion your kids. To you, I wish a happy and blessed Mothers Day.
And to all those like me who’ve had to remove themselves from relationship with their mothers or who’ve lost their kids, or through some other twist of fate, find this day a hard one, to you I express warm loving hugs and kindness and hope you too, have been able to have a day that’s not too bad after all too.