This morning I received an email from a woman who is a mother and who has been estranged by her grown children several times over 15 years. After describing the basics of the estrangement she said, "I need to move on with my life - any tips - and any help for handling Mothers Day?"
Tips for handling Mother's Day!? Her question inspired today's post.
For myself, over time, it has gotten easier. Her birthday is generally worse for me than Mother's Day has been.
On Mother's Day for many years I avoided going out to eat where there were families having their Mother's Day dinner. I felt as though the contrast between what they were experiencing and what I was experiencing would feel too stark and painful. However, my expectations of how I might feel have changed. It is possible that I could enjoy myself, even in the middle of a restaurant where everyone was going bonkers crazy over someone's mother.
My attitude about Mother's Day now is that my daughter can't take away from me the fact that I am a mother and that I loved being a mother and that this day, Mother's Day, is still a reminder that I have been a Mother. I can celebrate that fact no matter what SHE does or doesn't do. My attitude about her birthday is the same. These two days are mine too. We share in them even though we are apart. They involve good memories and my pleasure and happiness and she can't take that away from me.
They say that doing well is the best revenge. Since I am a mother, I don't think of "revenge" in terms of my daughter. I don't want or need "revenge." I don't know what word to use in place of revenge but I need a different word. Doing well involves being kind to yourself. Doing well is the path to healing. Doing well is giving yourself the recognition that you deserve. Doing well is appreciating yourself. Which may sound strange to appreciate yourself but in this case I think that we do need to recognize ourselves as deserving of appreciation, even if we aren't being shown appreciation by those whom we wish could appreciate us. We deserve to be appreciated anyway and if they can't, then we might as well show appreciation to ourselves.
So we CAN celebrate a Mother's Day or any other day for the positive things that it represents. We might choose to celebrate it differently than the rest of the country but we can celebrate it in our own way. Maybe we'd buy ourselves a great box of chocolates or take ourselves out to a movie (with friends maybe) or buy ourselves a gorgeous new top or a pair of shoes or jewelry or something that we enjoy a lot. Or go to a play or a performance or do something entirely new that we've never done before.
There's a song that has the line, "They can't take that away from me." That is true. No one can take away the pleasure of being a mother to someone we love or loved. We are mothers. It can't be taken away. It is a fact of life. The fact that my daughter won't talk to me doesn't change that. I still feel good about having been her mom and she can go screw herself if she thinks that she can wreck my life by not talking to me.
She can't wreck my life. I can wreck my life but she can't do it. I can have as good of a life and a Mother's Day as I want to have. It won't be a traditional Mother's Day but it will still be a good day. I can still appreciate being a mom.
This post is appropriate for Father's Day too. So if you're a Father and Father's Day comes along, remember that she can't take your being her dad away from you either.
Remember the good times and what you like about being her parent and put the other stuff away on a back shelf in your mind and let that other stuff gather dust.
Happy Mother's Day to you all,