Not everyone has to think about surviving Mother’s Day. I’m not gonna lie. I have had a rough time with the holiday for 22 years. Mother’s Day had often felt like an obligation that left me walking on eggshells. Sometimes it was really good. Sometimes, eh.
In 1997, probably in the February-March time frame, I excitedly announced to my parents that I was moving cross country. I had thought about it a long time, I had friends there, and the time was right for me to make a change. This was exciting news, dammit! I was going to live close to the beach where it was summer most of the year.
One Friday afternoon at the end of a workday, I made the three-hour trip to their house. We had dinner at their favorite local haunt. It was a nice evening. After dinner, I shared my news over coffee. I was expecting support and undying love. I mean, I was going on an adventure! This was HUGE!
Oh, what a silly girl I was. The mother became terribly angry and hostile, and a little unhinged. There was crying and ranting and raving. Her irrational words were burned into my brain…”All you need is your family. I don’t know why you always have to go looking for things you don’t need. You always do that. You don’t appreciate any of us!” It didn’t go as I had expected.
I lasted a day and a half at their house before I packed up. I had to get the heck out of there. The hostility was too much to bear. It never eased up. Nope, never. It continued until she died.
I moved that September and made a new life for myself. My new life had a big ole shadow, a really pissed off mother. As each year passed, it became worse. As time passed, I stopped visiting. I just couldn’t take it. Every trip I had made left me battered and bruised emotionally. Ah, life with the mother!
I came to dread all of the holidays. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Christmas. Thanksgiving. Every single one of them.
Each holiday was a new adventure in her special kind of anger. What could she say or do to ruin it for me? A lot actually, she was very creative! It hit a point where I just got through them as best I could. Sometimes I spent them with friends, sometimes I spent them alone. There was always the obligatory phone call at some point in the day that left me in tears and sick to my stomach and a sarcastic “Enjoy your day!” as she hung up, knowing she’d succeeded. Not a year went by that I didn’t wonder how I might go about surviving Mother’s Day.
The mother died on April 6, 2016. Although we knew the end was near, it was still shocking. You can’t prepare for that.
She hadn’t been well. It happened fast. I had a mix of emotions. Sadness. A life had ended. Relief. It was over. Guilt. I felt horrible for feeling relieved. That had to be wrong. What kid feels relieved that their mother is dead? This one apparently. Anger. Damn her for making me have all the icky feels. This series of emotions became a loop I would be stuck in for a very long time.
That First Year
A year passed and I spent most of that first Mother’s Day crying and angry. I yelled at her a lot. FINALLY, she had to just be quiet and listen, right? I had been yelling at her for a year, telling her all the things I’d bottled up. It was cathartic, and a little strange. That day I really let loose. However, I was surviving the first Mother’s Day, so I let loose.
The underlying dread I carried for so many years hadn’t gone away as I’d expected it to. It was still there, hiding in the shadows, waiting for me to feel good…then WHAM!
Why was I upset? It was quite simple. There were many people in the world with loving mothers. Mothers that children would walk through fire for. They all posted their happiness on Facebook. I avoided Facebook.
Surviving Mother’s Day
Year two arrived and I was dreading it again. I was invited to MOther’s Day Brunch by my bestie (truly the sister I never had) with her mother and her girls. My Florida family. They had been by my side through all of it, always supporting, always loving.
I said yes, not knowing if I would go or not. That morning I decided to join them and I had the most amazing time. We ate, we had beverages, we laughed, we told stories…we enjoyed each other’s company! I experienced moms who respected and supported their kids. Wow, they really did exist! It was wonderful to be a part of that day. I only felt a little guilty.
This year? I plan to join them again. We will be poolside with more of my friend’s family. The weather will be amazing, the company fantastic, and it will be a wonderful day. I still do a little yelling, mostly in the shower or while I’m driving. These days I don’t yell at her as loud or as often. I anticipate a little less guilt this year, and perhaps some mimosas or sparkling rosé!
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