Why do I hate Mother’s Day? Well, maybe because I am childless. I am childless by semi-choice. I chose to be childless in my 20’s because my husband was 20 years older, and didn’t want another family. But I could have left him. Only by the time I was in my early 30s, I was having so much trouble with endometriosis that I would probably have been infertile anyway. I also chose to be childless because I was afraid I would abuse any children I had.
My mother was always quick with the belt, or the stick, or the (insert whatever was at hand). I was afraid I would be like that too. The first year I was married, my husband was hit by a pickup truck, and his pelvis was broken. This was near Christmas. My sister left her two kids with me while all the rest of the family went skiing. There was a blizzard, and then it was below zero for several days. I was trapped in a house with a cranky husband and two small children (2 and 4 years old) who didn’t have enough toys. One day I found myself banging my youngest nephew’s head on the floor (carpeted, thank heaven). It was about that time I decided I really didn’t need kids. I’m 35 years away from that day, and it still hurts.
I also hate Mother’s Day because of my problematic relationship with my own mother. The physical abuse was bad enough, the psychological abuse was worse. I was never good enough. Even when she would brag about my accomplishments, she would exaggerate them. If I had gotten a solid B, it was inflated to an A+. It gave me a message of “not good enough”. Then there were the dinners where she would recount all my sins. I was called fat. I look at the pictures from those days, and know I was just built differently than she was, I was not even overweight. Even so, I was put on diets from the time I was about 13. And the times she jumped out at me in the dark and yelled “boo!” This went on daily for a while. It was funny the first time, by the 15th time, it was just nuts.
My mother was an alcoholic, her mother was a depressive. Alcoholism and depression travel on the same gene, and are actually probably different expressions of the same disorder. I have no doubt that she was disciplined severely, as was her mother. My grandmother was told it was her fault her sister was crippled. It was not. My great aunt was born with a club foot, something that apparently pops up in our family occasionally. This kind of cruelty can cause great consequences for children. I decided to break that chain. I would not inflict my own depression on a child, and take the risk that I would leave him/her as emotionally crippled as I was for years.
These days my mother could probably have gotten help. Relatives and teachers knew we were abused, but were afraid to tell anyone. There were eventually seven children, and my Dad always seemed to be at work to support us. These days my mother might not have been an extroverted, gregarious person trapped at home in a rural area with many small children. I really think she would have been better off if she had been working. But that was not expected or even available in those days.
I have worked for years to see my mother as the flawed human being she was, doing the best she knew how with what was handed to her. I have forgiven her, and know that deep in her heart, I am sure she loved me. But it was necessary to dance on her grave, first.
I would probably have been crazier than I am if not for grandparents. I was fortunate that my grandparents all lived nearby, and that my grandfathers and one grandmother were loving and supportive. I am grateful they lived at least until I was in my 20s.