I’ve read several articles on how Mother’s Day is a hard holiday for some. Most of the themes focus on how painful it can be to observe a holiday devoted to your mother if your mother has passed away. I feel for these people and I hope that they can find meaning through memories or celebrations of life for a woman who was loved and cherished by those she left behind.
I am not one of those people.
For years, Mother’s Day commercials asking viewers to “call your mom” or “send mom flowers” were annoying at best and mean-spirited at worst. Now that I am a mother, the emotional reactions I have are even more complicated.
Those sweet Johnson & Johnson commercials or other advertisements that depict the beauty of motherhood make me tear up because I think of my babies and how lucky I am to be their mommy. But I also feel anger because I don’t have a mother.
I don’t have one because I choose not to have a relationship with my mother even though she is still on this earth.
I do this for self-care reasons, and few people truly understand my decision. Even so, I would not change it.
In most cases, choosing to cut off a family member is incredibly difficult and heart-wrenching. In cases of abuse or neglect, that decision becomes a little bit easier. I almost wish that there was a very clear-cut reason as to why I choose not to have a relationship with my mother, but like most things in life, it’s more complicated than that.
My mother is not a nice person. In fact, she can be a downright terrible person. She was not a good mother growing up and she left deep emotional wounds that I’ve worked very hard to heal. But like most psychological injuries, these took a while to see.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I really became aware of just how toxic my mother can be and how her touch turns those around her to ash.
I broke free when I was 22. That was ten years ago.
I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt in my mid-twenties and I mistakenly thought that if I had a very sanitized and constricted relationship with her that it could work. But then I started to ask myself why I was willing to bend over backward to continue to have a relationship with someone who was never going to change.
So after a few conversations that solidified what I knew to be true, I completely cut off contact.
I have not spoken to her in about six years. It was the best decision I have ever made for my own mental health and well-being. I almost broke down again after she had some significant health concerns recently, but I realized that a toxic person can also be a physically unhealthy one, and illness doesn’t magically make a person a better human being. So I held strong and kept to my conviction that my mother is not someone who is worthy of knowing me or my family.
And it is really hard to realize that this woman made such awful choices to the point that she cannot ever know her grandchildren.
This is because it is my job as a good mom to protect my children, and one of the things that I can protect them from is her. They deserve to have relationships with people who love them and support them completely, and my mother will never be able to provide that.
So when Mother’s Day approaches, I am starkly reminded of the choices I made and I have a mixed bag of emotional reactions to them.
On the one hand, I am sad that this holiday has been warped for me because I have no one to send flowers to and no one to call. My wonderful mother-in-law has taken the place of my mother of the years, and I do celebrate her, but it’s in honor of my husband and the great job she did raising him.
I feel some jealousy when I see multiple generations of women dining together to celebrate this great journey and the beautiful relationships that mothers and children have across the lifespan.
I get angry because if my mother had just been a better human being, I’d be able to have a mom.
It stings to think that I have been cheated out of this experience, but I know that I wasn’t owed anything. Those are just the cards I was dealt. And I smile with the joy and honor of knowing that my babies are the best things I have ever done and I will love them and protect them with a fierceness that I didn’t even know I had in me.
I cherish the memories that we have together and I am warmed at the thought of those we have yet to make.
So, on this Mother’s Day and on every other one to come, I make choices. I choose to not focus on the negative emotions that are left from the remnants of the wounds I carry. Instead, I choose to reflect on the mom that I am and the one that I hope to become. I focus on the fierceness of my love and the role model I hope to be for my babies. I never want them to watch a commercial and look at it with tears in their eyes.
Instead, I want them to send me flowers and give me a phone call.
So as you celebrate your babies and your mothers, please remember that this holiday is a complicated one for many. Reach out to those who struggle with it and give them a shoulder if needed.