Saturday, May 10

Not your usual Mother's Day

It is the eve of Mother's Day and I am at the home of a dear friend. She's in one room with her daughter; I'm not quite sure what they're collaborating on this time, but they're often working together on something. I'm sprawled on a couch as is my friend's daughter-in-law. It is a testament to my friend that her children come to spend time with her, and not just because her birthday was about a week ago. They genuinely enjoy being with her and she with them.

I struggle with Mother's Day. I always have. I'm one of those standing and staring at cards, trying to find something that will be suitable but not too treacly. Trying to find something appropriate that doesn't make me want to hurl. Why? Because my mother and I have never had a great relationship.

The other day she said somethin about the "good old days" and then asked me, "We had a lot of good days, didn't we?" That's not a question formed by a lack of memory, but by a different impetus. I looked away and nodded. Yes, we had some good days. From my recollection, just not enough to counterbalance the rest. When I am with her, I'm often inclined to note that it's a good thing no one else can hear my internal dialogue. I've no doubt that anyone who might be able to hear the comments and/or responses would be legitimately shocked, perhaps even horrified.

I cannot relate to those who revere their moms, who miss their moms, who really enjoy being in the company of their own moms, and all those who truly appreciate their moms. I cannot relate to those who thank their moms for making them the men and women they have become or are becoming, although I know that I am much of what and who I am because of my mother. I know that I managed to stumble on, march through, and navigate my path as much because of her as in spite of her.

I will acknowledge Mother's Day tomorrow with a card. But that's it. That and my kindness and civility to her.

It's taken me a long time to get to this point. I remember when I wanted to be just like my mother, but that was decades ago. Now I hope and pray I can eradicate the parts of me that are so much like the mean and hateful parts of her. Now I hope and pray that I will be less like her.

Our parents were our first teachers. For many of us, our moms were our very first teachers and the most important teacher of many aspects of our lives. While my mother might have been my first teacher, I can think of others who were considerably more important to me. On the other hand, I also recognize how much my mother has taught me--and all kinds of things she never intended to teach me. Even so, I've learned a lot of valuable life lessons from her and for that I am, perhaps ironically, thankful.

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