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May 12

I don’t like Mother’s Day

I don’t like Mother’s Day. I’m also not all that fond of Father’s Day, for the record, but that’s another post. Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I wished it was just a regular Sunday. Too much pressure to make day perfect, to have every moment be filled blessings and gratitude and happiness – when the reality is that the day was filled with moments of wonder and joy and contentment, but also filled with impatience and frustration and inadequacy.  The toddler screaming because she didn’t get to stir the coffee, the pre-teen sobbing because netflix wasn’t working, and the Boy vegging out with video games and refusing to move from the front of the television.  Which, when you think about it, is kind of what motherhood is anyway – so maybe I shouldn’t be frustrated that Mother’s Day never quite lives up to my expectations.

But I am thinking about mothers today, as it relates to me, to my kids, to my own mother. I am the oldest child of a single mother, and that relationship will always be one of the most meaningful to me. My mother was the first way I identified myself, and if, as it seems to me sometimes, that my children all started off as a part of me and the rest of the journey is about them becoming who they are, independent of me, if that is true, then I have to acknowledge all of the ways in which I started out as a part of my own mother. Her empathy, her control tendencies, her enthusiasm and her sense of humor are all a part of me. So much of who I am today is because of her. And even in the ways in which we differ, it seems as though sometimes I am exactly opposite in reaction to her.

Which is interesting, for me, when I turn the lens the other way. When I look at Jessica and Sam and Julianna – and I see how they’ve grown and changed. How much of who they are are is because of who I am? And what is it about that relationship, that of mother and child, that continues to still influence my life, and how will it influence theirs? I wonder if it’s true, as my husband is fond of telling me, that it’s so much less about what I say or do, and so much more about their genetic inheritance from us.

I don’t know the answers to any of this, and I don’t know that I ever will. What I do know is that I can’t always draw the line between my mother and myself. And I certainly can’t always do it between my kids and myself. Emotions and problems and happiness and state of mind are so linked, and while that brings all sorts of complications and challenges, it also brings enormous comfort and a sense of belonging and contentment.

I think that’s why Mother’s Day can be so hard sometimes for so many people. Because the relationship between mother and child is so intimate and so fragile. Because it is so fundamental to who we are as people, especially as a woman who tends to define herself in relation to others. Not exclusively, but a big part of my life, before marriage and motherhood, was being my mother’s daughter. And an even bigger part of my life, since having children, is being their mother. I wouldn’t change it, even if I could. Those relationships are vital to who I am.

So in the end, I think Mother’s Day is an important holiday. Because taking some time to think about that, to think about how being a mother to these children, how being a daughter of my mother, has impacted my life, what it means to be in this place, at this time. To be a forty something mom of three, with a mother who’s much more of a friend than a parent at this point, and how to get to that place with my own children. How to survive adolescence and junior high, and the rapidly approaching advent of all three of my kids in full time school with grace and humor and a knowledge that nothing lasts forever. Someday, all of my kids will hopefully pack their kids up on a weekend in May, and spend the day at my house. With bikes and barbeque, bubbles and planting and yelling and chaos.  With any luck, I’ll be able to remember to be grateful for these relationships, and for all the blessings that I have in my life because of them.

 

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