For more reasons than you know, Mother's Day is painful for oh, so many people. For those who have tried and tried to have a child, even suffering the impoverishingly costly monthly roller coaster hell that is infertility treatment, the cloying sweetness of so many Mother's Day observances is hell on earth. As it can be hell for those who have taken care-filled decisions not to have children, but whom this day makes feel like somehow only part-humans. As it can be hell for those whose children have died, like my friend who, with her son's death, has now outlived all her children. As it can be hell for oh, so many reasons.
Have you ever watched people standing at the card displays before Mother's Day? Unable to find anything among the sugary poesy that even begins to reflect the more gritty and grotty realities of their real family backgrounds?
For me the day is painful because I didn't have a Mother. Oh my biological mother existed, but she was dreadfully physically and mentally ill all of my life. Even my brother, seven years older than I, can never remember seeing her hold me once. I certainly don't remember it.
When I left for school she would be sitting in the corner of the sofa crying. She'd still be there when I got back, to do the laundry, cook the supper, serve the supper, clean up after the supper, and do my homework. I remember her once combing my hair (painfully). That's it. From the age of 8 I was handed a bit of money in late August, and had to, by myself, walk a mile, get on the train, get on the subway, find my way to the department store, and buy my own back to school clothes. I was the weirdest dressed bloody kid. In fact I was 41 years old before a friend, (if you're reading this Judy Wheeler, thank you thank you thank you) went clothes shopping with me and told me what looked good on me and what didn't. 41!! Don't start with not knowing beans about make-up!
The only thing that makes up for all this for me was being able to be a mother myself. I grieve for my friends who have not had this totally accidental good fortune. I apologize profoundly to my own children for all my failings as a mother, well, how did I know what to do, who had had none of it done for me. I do remember the struggle I had taking my children to buy clothes - there was still that little child inside screaming "No one ever did this for me".
The Bible says "The fathers have eaten sour grapes and their children's teeth are set on edge". Well, folks, it's mothers too. I wish you all a day you can get through with as much grace as possible. And I bless my children for their existence.