Sunday, May 10, 2009
It's just a day, for heaven's sake. So why do I always have such a sense of dread? My children are wonderful on that day--and I make it hard for them too. Maybe it's because of my crummy attitude. So why is it crummy? I am sure that GUILT has a little to do with it (I can hear a chorus of women saying “amen”). You get “a day” each year to remember all the times where you didn’t measure up as a mother--at least that is what I do to myself. You sigh at lost opportunities, unmet needs, and missed cues--and maybe not loving/being in tune in just the right way with what every child wanted or needed. And since we always remember the sensational stuff (whether good or bad) we tend to judge ourselves by those memories. Just a little narcissistic maybe?
What's missing sometimes in our minds, and even in the minds of our children (that is until they become parents themselves) are the memories of the thousands of minutes, days, months, and yes, years where you did your job, and you did it elegantly--maybe even brilliantly. You did it through sickness, fatigue, sadness, sorrow, frustration and fear. You did it with poverty, isolation, loneliness and loss. You did it with faith, courage, determination or just plain stubbornness—and with never enough time. It was easy to do when you were skinny, happy, financially stable, and with a marriage made in heaven. It was a lot harder to do if you lost your faith, your friends, your sweetheart, or even your dog. The minutes, days, weeks and months of excellent mothering get forgotten by us as we measure our mother's worth by all our imperfections. By all our weaknesses. By all our regrets.
We all have trials--and often the casualties of these trials are the scars we pack around that constantly remind us of the battle. And Mother's Day, it seems, is the holiday we use to celebrate that battle. I've changed my outlook for that day--for several very good reasons--my children. My crummy attitude was affecting their affection for me on that day. I know that they dreaded it too as they looked forward to a day where they would be walking on eggshells. If they didn't say the right things or do the right things they assumed that they would reinforce my own screw-up view of my motherhood. That's a terrible burden to give children, don't you think? Especially when it has NOTHING to do with them. It was all me, but I was inadvertently putting them in charge of fixing me.
Because that is such a dead end path, I choose another: I look forward to seeing them all today while looking into their eyes and seeing the wonderful human beings they are and have become. And yes, even knowing that I DID have something to do with it, and be proud of that work. I know that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. And also, just in case, if I taught them anything--I taught them to be forgiving. I trust that that is why they will love and celebrate me on this, my day.