I Hate Mother’s Day
Some days I wonder if it was ever part of God’s eternal plan for me to be a mother. I question whether I pushed the issue, convinced for some bizarre, twisted reason that a baby would make things better.
I struggled to stay pregnant, with four heartbreaking loses (two very early) before my son was born. His issues started early, with failure to thrive and constant illnesses in his first year.
He had his first seizure shortly after he turned two, rapidly lost what speech he had developed and disappeared into himself. He was diagnosed, among other things, with severe autism.
He never came back to me.
I did my best to raise a severely disabled child against the backdrop of an abusive marriage. What parts of my life were not determined by my son’s disability, were controlled by my husband.
I had been trapped by the impossible combination of an abusive relationship and a special needs child. I had been imprisoned by motherhood.
And my love for my child meant that my sentence was for life without parole.
Shining a light on motherhood
I hate Mother’s Day television commercials. A stereotypical well put together woman recently woken from her slumber is brought breakfast in bed with a handmade card and posy of chrysanthemums by her handsome husband and gorgeous, healthy children. What follows is a gathering of the extended family to celebrate the commitment and sacrifice of mothers and grandmothers.
This is what society, jewelers and florists, sell us as Mother’s Day.
Perhaps this is what it’s like for some mothers, I wouldn’t know. But for many the reality of the second Sunday in May could not be a starker contrast. Mother’s Day, as packaged by the media is not for us.
We are left to endure our pain, guilt, or both, alone.
Mother’s Day is often painful, for many reasons.
Mothers are just people. We hurt, we fail. We die on people who need us.
We give birth to much wanted children, who are unable to fulfill, through no fault of their own, the dreams we had for them. We become disillusioned, resentful, exhausted.
We commit our lives to men who are not what they seemed. Men who have turned on us, who treat us like property, who believe they are entitled to violate our bodies, control our movements and shatter our dreams. We are trapped, because we are mothers, and mothers always put their children before themselves.
Mothers break, and heal, and break again.
Mothers have mothers who are also human. Mothers who die when we need them to live, mothers who abuse when we need them to love, mothers who fail when we need them to fight.
There are women who marry and became mothers because that’s the natural order of things, and never quite come to terms with the sacrifice.
Then there are women who dreamed of a motherhood that was not to be. Their fertile years come, and all too quickly go. They are not mothers, and it wasn’t supposed to be that way.
For some women, motherhood was never in their plan, and they never quite fit in as a result. That’s just twisted. We don’t examine the motives of men who don’t want children.
Why is that?
And then there are the children that don’t understand the unspoken rule, that their job is to bury their mother, not the other way around. When a woman buries her only child, she is still a mother, or is she?
Society’s answer to all this pain? Create a day where we celebrate the fortunate ones, and ignore the suffering of the rest.
A devastating realization
I love my child, but the reality of being his mother is complex and sad. I’ve been traumatized by the decades I spent with his father and am now unable to manage my son’s behavior on my own. My ex looks after him, and does that well.
After years of fighting I’ve made the devastating decision to leave him to it. I’m constantly trying to find ways to be a part of my son’s life, but it isn’t easy.
Tragically, I have realized, twenty years after he was born, that if I am really honest, had I known what I was in for, and the difficult life that was ahead for him, I would not have had children. I would have run from his father, while I still could.
If you think I’m an awful person for admitting that, fine, you couldn’t possibly pile any more guilt on me than what I’ve already piled on myself.
This is why I hate Mother’s Day.
Surviving the day
I know that my mothering story is unlikely to end well. This time it’s been five months since I’ve seen my son. I don’t know how much more grief I can take, and how much more ‘on again off again’ I can put my precious child through.
So today, like countless others around the world, I’ll keep a low profile, leave the television off and look forward to the day being over.
Because there are no handmade cards or sloppy kisses from my son for me. Just an empty, sad feeling of failure that never leaves.
I don’t need a special day to shine a light on my agony. It’s a daily occurrence.
It’s okay to avoid Mother’s Day
Reading other writer’s stories of the joy, pain and guilt associated with all things mothering, has been a source of strength and encouragement for me. Many women carry immense pain and some bravely write about it. It’s cathartic for the writer and validating for the reader.
Whilst it takes courage to bleed onto the page, for some of us, that is where true healing begins.
My advice, for what it’s worth, avoid Mother’s Day if it hurts too much. Just say no. Go back to bed with cup of tea, light a candle and read a book.
It will be over soon.