It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my previous posts (or anyone who knows me) that Mother’s Day is not my favourite day. It is, in fact, a difficult occasion for several reasons.
There are cheery signs, cards and gift ideas everywhere, whether online or in stores, telling us how we can make it a special day for mum, and these are difficult to look at. I have no intention of sending chcolates, cake, jewellery or hugs; nothing would have been received with grace or civility, and the act of gifting would simply be fodder for more of the endless smear campaign. In the midst of the first Covid lockdown, I’d sent food baskets, only to hear from my aunt that my mother had to stopped from throwing the food out. I spent this morning sending messages to my friends who are loving, and loved, mums instead.
There are images everywhere, too, of happy families smiling away, shrouded with an invisible cloak of maternal bliss. I turn away because these families are a deeply painful reminder that this is not my reality. Sure, there are snippets of happy moments in my memory bank – childhood moments where my mother and I had gone on walks, or did homework together – but I have to stop to ask if these are real or simply figments that I want to cling desperately to. Then come the many recollections of having things thrown at me or having to listen to my character flaws listed in public or having everyone I know turned against me, including my father. What is real is the life I have built with my own family (yes, I have a daughter) where I have tried to NOT BE the mother I had, if that makes sense.
I do not want to spend time ranting about my past; it serves no purpose. Rather, I wanted to explain how I’ve accepted that something as precious as a mother’s care is not a given in all families. There are children who learn to navigate their way into parenthood on their own, and who have learnt to use their past as a how-not-to manual. There are women (and men) who reject parenthood because they fear repeating the behaviours they were exposed to. And there are those who will go on to be poor parents because they have no clue how to be any different.
My past has taken its toll on my health, both physical and mental. Growing up with someone who is likely suffering from a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (my mother has never acknowledged the need for a psychiatric evaluation even though her doctor recommended one years ago) is painful, and healing from it is a long, long process. I find it supremely ironic that I’m the one who ended up in therapy, but I am so grateful that I did.
I have not really communicated with my mother for years. “No contact” and “grey rock” are terms that I am now familiar with. I understand that my actions are a form of breaking an “inter-generational curse” of behaviours because I refuse to ever let my daughter be in the position I was. To do that, I must never become my mother. If going no contact makes me a healthier and better mother, then I am doing something right. And I treat each day away from my mother and the memories as a blessing.
While I want to wish all mums reading this the happiest of days, I also want to say to those who are struggling with this day (and possibly other occasions that may trigger unhappy memories) that you are not alone. It is a difficult day because it strikes at the core of who we are meant to respect, love and honour. But their failure is not ours.