Another Mother's Day Is Upon Us
Mother's Day is upon us once again, a day I have become accustomed to not celebrating or for that matter, not being celebrated. My boys, having gone to a school that didn't promote anything commercial, came to believe that Mother's Day was "simply another one of those Hallmark holidays."
I can't deny being envious of friends and neighbors who reported being served breakfast in bed, receiving flowers and cards, and being wined and dined for a good portion of the day. What's more, I could
have gotten paranoid as each successive mother's day came and went wondering if the lack of celebration in our household was some sort of punishment for my failing at the role. But I have pretty much refused to go there, knowing in my heart of hearts that I had given motherhood -perhaps the best and worst of jobs-my best shot.
There were, however, all those times that I came up short and failed miserably: locking myself in my office obsessively writing children's books completely ignoring anything that was going on outside the door; sending my youngest out to play one winter's day knowing full well he was about to throw up; the screaming fits I'd have, in order to get them to pick up their rooms; being too tired to sit with them while their homework was properly finished; and all those Bloody Mary tet- a tet'-s with friends when our husband's were out of town...drinking away as our children played recklessly too late into the night.
But when I read Vanessa Redgrave's description of how she mothered I pretty much stopped the self-flagellation and began to respect my story.
"I've been a mad, bad mother as well as a good mother," Redgrave said. "I've been a caring mother and a forgetful mother. But the wonderful thing is that in the end I've got these wonderful children."
Her truth made me realize how fortunate I was to actually GET to be a mother in the first place-good, bad, or indifferent. Sure I faltered, have had my share of regrets, and at times wish I could repair the wounds and do it all over again. Most of the women in my day were stay-at-home moms which can be "the loneliest job in the world" a friend once said, as well as tedious and boring. What's more, when I had an issue with one or the other of my sons there was no manual in which to turn to solve a problem. Basically I regressed to what my mother did which was not always right or civil.
So when I learned that one or another of my sons were seeing a therapist I said under my breath...here it comes. Everyone knows it's always the fault of the mother. But hey, what about the genes and the basic inborn traits?
For sure my boys came with both the stubborn gene as well as the anger gene inherited from their maternal great-grandfather. Case in point: One early morning, hearing the school bus honking I found our youngest son on the edge of his bed, his skinny little body half clothed, refusing to put on the outfit his visiting grandmother had put out for him to wear. He ended up wearing what he chose, his stubbornness winning out as it has-either helping or harming him-since birth.
And our older son, as an infant began crying upon entering the pediatrician's office. At one year of age he knew where he was and did not want to be there. Once on the doctor's table he kicked and screamed trying his all to get out from under her clutches. "You will need to always work with his temper," she said, matter- of -factly, and so we have. Ancestral genes canremove some of a mother's guilt, thank God!
And then there are the life experiences that contribute to their growth and change-attitudes and behaviors that didn't happen on my watch-some good, some bad, but all going into the making of their individual selves.
The only thing I know for sure is that I will never outgrow caring for my children. It's a precarious dance I do, peering into their own personal landscape, watching and hoping for signs of improvement. It remains a poignant experience as I am more than aware of the diminishment of emotional connection which is hard to welcome. It can't be otherwise, for a mother is impelled to know that the seeds of value sown in her have been somewhat winnowed.
Where does that leave me this mother's day and how will I celebrate? I shall celebrate their essence-their bombastic enthusiasm-their daring-- their toughness when they fail and fail to complain to me. In fact they rarely call home with a problem. Being young men they have the fortitude to solve their issues themselves. I will spend the day smiling quietly at the individual lives that were born through me but are not of me.
Love, at any age, takes up everything I've got. It's equated with joy when in fact it is everything else. Being a mother continues to allow me to experience authentic love in its most raw and pure form.
Happy Mother's Day to all!