Today is mother's day, and I am honouring my role as a mother. My children are too small to understand the meaning of today, and thankfully too small to buy into the commercial hype about it as well!
Every Mother's Day I reflect on my own mother and on the way I was mothered. More than ever, since having children this brings up a lot of hurt and sadness.
As a mother, I am as attached as I can be. My children are at the forefront of my mind all of the time. I research deeply to ensure that the choices I make are based on not only my instinct, but also on what is shown- and known- to be best for my children so they grow into healthy adults. Despite being overwhelmed, frustrated, isolated or snowed under, I do my best to ensure my children know I am present for them every moment that I can be, and I try to enjoy the moments of calm which happen miraculously every once in a blue moon. My children were only cared by myself (and occasionally their father) for the first 3 years of their life- the exception being that my 3.5 year old son recently started kindergarten (and I have to explain that as someone who is planning to homeschool, this might seem at odds with my philosophy, however to support us I have to work a few days a week and one of those days I cannot bring him with me.). I co-sleep, extended breastfeed, babywear and attend to my children's needs instead of leaving them to cry. My children are still small, and they need me right now. Children need us more intensely for the their first 5 years of life than they will ever need us.
My mother is a stark contrast to myself, which is something I have thought long and hard about. Did I become an attachment parent in response to her detachment? Or am I a maternal person compared to her lack of emotion simply because we are different people? Is she a byproduct of a detached childhood herself, and if so- what is her excuse for not evolving, not resolving to make her children's lives happier than her own childhood?
I was raised by strangers in childcare centres, palmed off to babysitters, handed over at every possible moment. My mother didn't want to mother us so she hid behind the values of 'Feminism'- which has nothing to do with actual feminism but was a twisted perception to excuse her choices. (I am a feminist myself, so I now know how backward her apporach is!) We were in childcare because real feminists worked fulltime AND had a family. She had to go back to work because women need to show they are equal to men. Every excuse was used. But the truth boils down to this- my mother didn't want to be at home with us as babies. Nor as children. She didn't want to mother us. She found us boring and a waste of her time. Which might have just been a fact for her, but it was a rejection to me, and an invalidation of my needs.
As an adult, my relationship with my mother is strained and based on nothing more than family. I am not bonded to my mother, nor do I feel a deep attachment to her. I never have. I feel nostalgic and emotional when I smell her perfume- I think this is the closest I ever got to getting a scent imprint of my mother that I could attach to. We discuss my children and I am jealous because my mother is more affectionate, more loving, more caring when it comes to her grandchildren. I understand this, because she isn't as emotionally invested and she doesn't have to live with them full time. But it still hurts to see my children receive love from her and feel a hurt in a far-away place where a wound was created by the absence of her love.
So today, on Mother's Day, I do not ring my mother- instead, my father rings me to prompt me to ring her. She is hurt that nobody has called her. And usually I do. But today, I don't think I will ring my mother. Every time I ring her for mother's day, I allow her to ignore the hurt she caused by not mothering my sisters and I. Every time I ring her for mother's day, I am allowing her to continue pretending that I think that "You were/are a great mum." Yet she was not. Is not. I do not want to hurt her, but I don't want to hurt myself by ignoring my experiences.
My mother knows I am a single parent with two small children, yet she is hurt when her adult children don't honour her mother status. She didn't even consider that there was nobody honouring my motherhood, that she could take a step and ring me to wish me a happy mother's day. My father honours my mother for bringing his children into the world- he has since the day she gave birth to my older sister and he has continued to do so- daily- for the 30+ years which have passed since. Yet she needs us to validate this, on a day which is nothing but a commercial opportunity to sell cards and flowers and chocolates. I am supposed to validate someone for being a mother lacking in so many areas simply because Hallmark decided today was a good day for it?
Today, I am wishing myself mother's day. I made myself a beautiful breakfast and wrapped my hands around a warm cup of licorice tea. My children are with their father today as Sunday is the day he has them, and he has not wished me a happy mother's day, nor has he ever honoured my role as a mother. He was unaware it was mother's day so he did not plan to take the children on a different day. I wouldn't expect consiousness, though, so I am not disappointed!
So I am honouring my motherhood. I am remembering the beauty inherent in me as a mother. I am looking at photographs of my belly growing ripe with my son, giving respect to the journey that motherhood has taken me on, giving thanks to myself for doing everything within my power to be a wonderful mother. I had an awful role model and yet I have managed to develop into a loving, caring, passionate mother who isn't afraid to hold her children close to her heart.
I am going to watch a movie, read a book, eat some soup and enjoy my day. I am going to give thanks to my wobbly tummy for helping cradle two small people as they grew strong enough for this world. I am going to watch my birth dvd's and remember the moment when I first touched my children. I am going to pat my own back and sing my own praises, and I am going to continue to be the best mother I can.
Because sometimes, the best mother we can ever have is our self.