Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The darker side of mother's day.


This is not a Hallmark moment, and if you are looking for warm and fuzzy sentiments on mom, you may want to look elsewhere. I am writing about the dark side of Mother’s Day. For months we have been badgered with emails and ads, amping up as the dreaded Sunday approaches. ‘Don’t forget to buy something to show your mom how wonderful she is’ is the message that the commercial world sends out, but for years this day had a whole different meaning for me, more along the lines of blackmail and offerings to a cruel idol that had the ability to thunder and shake the ground in my little world.

To be clear, I know that there are many mothers in the world that are kind and good, that sacrifice much, and deserve to have a fuss made over them. Unfortunately, whether your mom is June Cleaver (“Leave it to Beaver” 1957-1963) or Joan Crawford (“Mommie Dearest” 1981, recall the scene where a cold-cream clad Joan screams ‘no wire hangers ever!’), you are expected to march along and sing the same happy tune. If you have ever stood sweating over the cards in the store, trying to find one that didn’t wax poetic over the maternal greatness that is mom, you know what I mean. Finding one that would be acceptable, but still didn’t contain an outright lie was a delicate balancing act. Maybe that is why I began making my own cards, so that I could simply say ‘Happy (insert holiday) Day’ and ‘I love you’.

For years I dreaded this day because I knew that some misstep would inevitably leave me in the dog house. One year, in a preemptive strike on the part of my mother, I got the silent treatment all weekend because I had given her a flower on Friday and she thought I didn’t have another offering for the big day. I had actually cross-stitched a handkerchief with roses, ribbons and her initial, and had wrapped it in tissue paper to give to her on Sunday, but the damage was already done.  Even as an adult, this holiday was a minefield that I couldn’t hope to make it through in one piece. Once I didn’t call early enough (my intention being to let her sleep in on her day off),  so I was in the bad books for days. Last year I was informed that she didn’t care if we spoke on Mother’s Day, and true to her word, when I called, she had nothing to say. She also had nothing to say the next day, or the day after that. I never could get her to tell me what was bothering her, and she hasn’t spoken to me since. Although I have always tried to mend fences before now, it is difficult to imagine continuing such a dysfunctional relationship, as  it is not uncommon for her to give the silent treatment to various family members for years, nay decades, on end. Regardless, I wish her well.

As always, I debated about posting something so personal. I searched the internet for ‘surviving mother’s day’ and found very few useful pages. Somehow I find it hard to believe that I am entirely alone in my angst over this day, so my hope is that by writing about my feelings, someone else may feel just a little bit less alone. If you have a reason to celebrate this day, do so with your whole heart, and I wish you a wonderful day. If not, I hope you survive reasonably unscathed, and I wish you comfort and peace.


Showing on this day in 2011: Sweet & Condensed Milk (homemade)