Warning: Not a greeting card.
Today is a day to celebrate mothers.
It’s also a day that, for some, serves up the potential for disappointment or sadness.
-You’ve been trying to conceive for years and can’t. THANKS FOR THE REMINDER.
-You’ve lost a child or children.
-Your step kids hate you!
-Everyone thinks you should have children by now, or questions why you don’t. CUT IT OUT. I DON’T WANT ANY. AND IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
-Your kid is so drunk or high he/she doesn’t realize it’s Sunday- let alone Mother’s Day!
-Your mom is no longer among the living (HI MOM!)
-Mom’s a drunk, a tweaker, a pill popper, jailed or otherwise disappointing. More women are in prison per capita in Oklahoma than in any other state=a lot of sad kids today.
-She’s Mommy Dearest.
No, life’s not perfect. Motherhood’s not perfect. You won’t find real mom thug life depicted on Instagram. That’s because it’s a messy, sloppy, twisty, turny amalgamation of love and pain and joy and piles of laundry. Deep, deep piles of laundry.
What does the world owe us?
Say it again!
Life is what we make of it.
My mom died of cancer five years ago. Sucked. #$%^ cancer.
I moved home to Michigan from Chicago when we first learned she was sick. I was pregnant with my daughter at the time and living in my parents’ basement with my under-employed husband.
My mom and I sometimes took night walks to the park down the street and screamed it “#$%^ YOU CANCER!!!!!!!” in the dark before dissolving into giggles. Her chihuahua Isabelle looked at us funny then ran in circles.I miss her. That first Mother’s Day after her death stung.
I’ve learned since to try my best not to dwell on what I don’t have, a skill that is a long way off from perfection.
Motherhood is rough, man.
Just last week I decided to take care of a shoulder injury I managed to bestow upon myself in a misguided attempt to do a pull-up. I made an appointment with a physical therapist. The night before the appointment? Inexplicable 3 a.m. screaming from Eli. Laila flops into our bed. When she sleeps she’s a hot lump of clay with sporadic flailing spaghetti limbs. I get up, move to another room.
The morning of my appointment, no one wakes up on time. Of course we don’t. Laila’s late for school. I’ll take her after my appointment, I determine.
I went to a physical therapist. It felt good to take care of myself. I return home and pick Laila up to take her to school.
As we walk up to the school building, Laila and I see her class on their way back from a field trip. It was a scavenger hunt at an area garden. It was a field trip I volunteered for.
“Hi LAILA! HI! LAILA’S MOM!” her classmates scream.
“Mommy – we missed it!”
“It’s OK baby, mom’ll take you there another time.
I return to my mom van and burst — and I do mean burst — into tears.
It’s not even 11 a.m., for Pete’s sake.
What could I do but text a sympathizer — my friend Khina.
And this is what I said:
“I feel like the biggest f$%^ up on the planet…Mom guilt is killing me….Ugh I want to run away with my family to the countryside and raise goats. That is seriously my fantasy.”
And she noted:
“Maybe there’s a secret place where working moms go to sit in their cars to cry, like those places gay men go to have anonymous sex.”
I burst out laughing then continued my sob in a parking lot before putting on my tough guy act and getting to the office.
Had my mom been alive, I would have texted her. But I texted Khina. Khina’s in the network. I have these wonderful women in my world who help me get through life when I do something stupid like try to do a pull-up, setting into motion a chain of events that ends in failing to remember my daughter’s field trip.
How could I possibly be sad today when I have a friend like her? She’s a mom, too. She gets it.
We have European play dates. These involve us sitting on a picnic blanket while our children bounce around a backyard. These involve wine, as this is how we imagine playdates are done in France. God bless the European play date.
Anyway, after my catharsis in the parking lot, a little piece of my mom’s past sage advice popped into my head.
It stemmed from an incident in which I was living in China with my then-boyfriend Mark. I Skyped with my mom, feeling mopey and sorry for myself about Godknowswhat.
She told me to stop thinking about myself.
“Go do something else. Think of something else. You’re too focused on you.”
Translation: Buck up, you self-centered wimp.
She was right then. She’s right now.
Khina helped me to forgive myself in the moment I felt like a mom-failure. My own mom helped me get over myself.
I got to work and put my mind to my work.
Reinforcement of point:
Don’t focus on what you don’t have. Focus on what you do. And yes, #easiersaidthandone.
That goes double on a day like today, when we’re reminded of mothers, of our own desire to be mothers, or not to be mothers, and our complicated and sometimes difficult relationships with mothers, and how moms fit in, or don’t, into each of our complex, crazy worlds. We are reminded of the things they gave us; the things they stole from us; what they taught us; or what we learned the hard way.
I’ve got my own littles and I had 30 years with a great mom.
I am a mother.
Happy $%^&*(# Mother’s Day.