Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

I've never been much of a fan of Mother's Day. It started with the days of unsuccessfully trying to conceive and being reminded of my inability to fulfill what it seemed I was created to do. I thought it would change when I did become a mother. But even then, Mother's Day has always seemed to be about holding up the ideal for praise. Either way, a day fraught with sadness/bitterness or some strange kind of guilt. But on my sixth Mother's Day now, I have been less judgmental and expectant about what the day will hold for me. I sat in church, wearing the flower corsage Mister made for me, craning my neck to see them singing "Mother, I Love You," and pasting a smile on my face during the talks. 

Mister and I at his class's Mother's Day tea party, with me, wearing the flower corsage.

I think my history of dislike for the day comes from a sense of the complexity of emotions behind it for so many women--women who have lost their mothers, women who are not mothers and would like to be, women who are trying to come to terms with their own preconceived notions of motherhood versus the sometimes-hard reality of it, women who expect a day devoted to them but don't actually get it, and so on and so on. I like Anna Quinden's take on Mother's Day here:

"Mother's Day is still fraught with strong emotion, if only because each year I feel like a fraud. It is undeniable that I have given birth to two children; I remember both occasions quite vividly. But the orchid corsage, the baby-pink card with the big M in curly script, the burnt toast on a tray in bed--they belong to someone else, some other kind of person, some sort of moral authority. They belong to Mother, and each of us knows quite well who that person is, and always will be. That person is a concept. I suppose that is where it all goes wrong. I know few people who have managed to separate the two. . . . 

That is hard to imagine, even harder to accept, for among other things, it means realizing that your own mother felt this way, too--unsure of herself, weak in the knees, terrified about what in the world to do with you. It means accepting that she was tired, inept, sometimes stupid; that she, too, sat in the dark at 2:00 A.M. with a child shrieking across the hall and no clue to the child's trouble.  . . . 

It has to do with Mother with a capital M: someone we are afraid to be and afraid that we can never be. It has to do with a torch being passed, with finding it too hot to hold, with looking up at the person who has given it to you and accepting that, without it, she is no Valkyrie, just a woman muddling through, much like me, much like you."

Despite my feelings about Mother's Day, I am grateful today for the children who are patient with me as I muddle through, and I am grateful for my own mother who persisted in her own muddling through and is still does her very best during all of the many times that I still need her. 
1.  Opportunity, 2.  Children laughing, 3.  An afternoon nap/rest


sweetpea said...

I've had those feelings too--I still feel that way sometimes. I've learned to just enjoy the moment, and look at Mother's Day in a different way.

For the record, I think you're a wonderful mother, and I've learned a lot from you.

Hayley said...

I am there with you on your feelings. I am not a big fan of Mothers Day, but I do find myself taking advantage of the day when I don't feel like dealing with a child.

Miranda said...

Your an awesome mom. I want to be a mom like you!