Essays For Those Who Struggle On Mother’s Day

As an outlet, The Establishment strives to be as inclusive of as many narratives and voices as possible, always seeking to give space to the stories rarely told. Today, in the blinding, pastel light of this Hallmark-infused holiday, those stories are often ones of pain and loss, abuse and estrangement. These stories are not as beautiful or as easy to behold as perfectly arranged pink lilies or a glittery, heart-shaped card. They are distinctly darker, more jagged, often confusing, messy, and downright devastating. But this makes them all the more important to share, especially for those who may be alone today, whose lives have never been the kind that would fit neatly into boxes of wrapped chocolate tied up in colorful ribbons.

These are the stories from the margins of today’s celebrations, no less important or valid as any greeting card message.


My Mother’s Judgment Shattered Me — I Will Not Shatter My Son

By Lea Page

“I’m not in favor of my son joining the military for many reasons. Politics is one. And, of course, I don’t want him to be shattered.
But I know that, whatever my son decides, I will have his back — no matter what. I will listen, and I will try to hear beyond the surface of his words. I will try to understand his intentions and look for the good. I will never, ever cast him aside to break against unyielding and incurious ideals.”


We’re Supposed To Love Our Mothers — But What If They Don’t Really Love Us?

By Nicole Higgins DeSmet

“Popular opinion says family, especially mothers, are sacred. Even if she is difficult, I’m supposed to love her, because, really, she loves me. But what if she doesn’t — not even in “her own way?” Popular opinion doesn’t want to hear about it, because it threatens our social contract. But think what it does to a child. The experience of being despised by one’s own parents, especially one’s own mother, implicates the child. Popular opinion can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with her; what unforgivable thing she did.”


The Mother’s Day Stories We Never Hear

By Garnet Henderson, Bee Swope, Elena Zhang, and Angie Aker

“What about those children for whom the second Sunday of every May is a triggering reminder of a damaged relationship? Of abuse? Of a staggering loss? Of a bond that never was? What stories can we not see or hear over the din of our society mandating expressions of motherly gratitude?
Here are some of the voices drowned out by Hallmark.”


My Mother, The Wolf

By Oriana Koren

“My mother told me about God and salvation and I thought I could find a way through religion to free myself, but at every chance she had, she took that salvation from me. My mother hurled her shame for herself at me and I thought I deserved it. Most days, I still can’t shake the feeling of being inadequate, of being filthy. My mother told me to never talk about ‘what happens in our family,’ to never write about the things that happened in our home, to never speak truth to the evil alive and real in her.”


Lead image: flickr/David Goehring

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