I always thought motherhood would change the way I feel about Mother's Day. In some ways it has; at least I have something to do on the second Sunday in May. But the fact is, while I love my child, I still hate Mother's Day.
I hate the commercials that show loving families all gathered around granny. I hate the newspaper circulars that beg me to "thank mom."
Thank her for what? A desperately low level of self-esteem and a tendency to apologize for breathing?
In the way that single people dread Valentine's Day, those of us with absent mothers dread the first few weeks of May. We prepare for the onslaught of mush and gush by steeling our hearts.
I didn't grow up in one of those homes you see on the commercials. My mother was cold. Is cold. She's mean and manipulative. She's a raging narcissist.
She doesn't need a Mother's Day to feel special. She has every day to make life about herself.
I sound bitter. I know. I am bitter.
But it's not because I didn't have a perfect mother or even a good one. I'm trying to make my peace with that as I attempt to be a good mom without a good mom role model.
I'm bitter because she's made a day when I should be reveling in being a mother into a day when I would like nothing more than to crawl under the covers and sleep until it's over.
I should be overjoyed on Mother's Day, drinking in the scent of my flowers and the scent of my daughter's shampooed hair. I should be smiling and singing and on top of the world.
Instead, I struggle to be present and paste a smile on my face for the sake of my child and my husband. Just looking at my daughter on Mother's Day is painful.
It's not her fault. Being a loving mom reminds me that I don't have one. By the end of the day, I hate myself more because I've succumbed to the feelings of resentment I more easily keep tamped down during the rest of the year.
On Mother's Day, I'm forced to confront the fact that I'm jealous of my own daughter. I am jealous that she has the mom I didn't have. I'm jealous because she will never spend a Mother's Day crying because a gift she worked her heart and soul to make was cast aside. I'm jealous because Mother's Day will never be another day to make her feel more inadequate.
I'm jealous because everything the commercials say is true. Moms are supposed to love you and care for you and be that hero you want to run to on Mother's Day with an armful of flowers. And mine isn't.
I can't change my mother just by being a mother. I can't change my feelings about Mother's Day just by being a mother.
The only thing I can do is prop myself up, put a grin on my face, and try to give my child the Mother's Day SHE deserves. She still has a chance to love Mother's Day. I don't want to ruin that for her.
Dealing with an absent mom on Mother's Day? How do you deal?
Image via Woodleigh School/Flickr