I’m one of those people…yes, I’m one of those people who absolutely hates Mother’s Day.
For weeks, the run-up is soppy, sappy commercial after maudlin, saccharine commercial lauding “Mom” and demanding that we shower her with diamonds, with edible arrangements, with new phones, ad nauseum.
In theory, I’m fine with Mother’s Day. Hey, our moms are supposed to love us unreservedly, patch up our boo-boos with kisses and Bactine, cheer for us when we play the 3rd tree to the left in our school play, be our cheerleader, our confidante, our disciplinarian, our wisest counselor and our best friend.
My mother was none of those things. My mother was a cold, hard woman who resented every minute she was forced to spend caring for her two children and considered my brother and me to be the equivalent of a prison sentence to hard labor. She made her resentment felt in any number of ways; both right-up-front aggressive in the form of corporal punishment and more subtle, yet cutting passive-aggressive comments about every aspect of my life.
She laughed when she hurt my feeings; I remember coming across a tragic little drawing on pink construction paper that I made as a 6 year old. It was a stick figure me with lines of tears flowing across the page and the inscription in straggling block letters in purple crayon, “you dont love me you never loved me.” My heart aches for that little kid – who knew, even at the tender age of 6, that her mommy didn’t love her. My mother thought it was hilarious; I can remember her laughing at me, her pint-sized drama queen.
Spankings were regularly administered, along with hard slaps to the face if we “smarted off” or “needed something to cry about.” My mother used her hand to spank; the belt was relegated to “wait until your father gets home!!!” The passive-aggressive stuff was worse. If I, as I frequently did, brought home a report card with all A’s and one B (PE. I never could do better than a B in PE), there was always that eyeroll and long-suffering sigh to tell me how much my (continual) abject failure disappointed her.
My mother abused us in other ways as well. Outgrowing my clothes and shoes was a personal failing of mine, as were the regular eye exams and new glasses I needed once a year. I was sick for a week with stomach pain, but to my mother, I was simply faking it to get attention or to escape PE – until she finally took me to the emergency room after a full 7 days, and I was diagnosed with a burst appendix and taken straight to surgery. I fell and broke my leg in 9th grade, and of course I did that deliberately to make her life hell.
And the crown jewel in my mother’s revenge on me for being born? She allowed my stepfather to molest me for a number of years. I know the gentler-hearted of you, my readers, will ask “Are you sure she knew?” My answer is yes, she did know. When I was 8 or so, I once told my stepfather that if he didn’t leave me alone, I was going to call the police. That very night, my mother came in to my room and sat down next to me on my bed. She grabbed me by my shoulders and jerked me up into her face, where she fixed me with an angry glare and said, “If you EVER tell anyone, I will never speak to you again!”
So yes, she knew. I still can’t wrap my head around the conversation she and my stepfather must have had which precipitated that visit to my room and that threat she made.
Once I left home at 17, I continued to chase after my mother’s approval for a number of years. Every attempt was rebuffed; some more hurtfully than others. I’m not going to detail all those things here, but just know that I had been conditioned for years by my mother to be like a moth – to batter myself against the glass walls of the lamp until I either dropped exhausted or burned up in the flame.
Finally, in my mid-30’s, after years of therapy in which I came to understand what may have been my mother’s own life as an abused child, I reached out to her in a heartfelt and tear-stained letter and told her that I forgave her for the years of neglect and abuse, and most of all, for allowing my stepfather to molest me. I guess I was hoping that she’d tell me that she was sorry too, but that’s not what happened. Instead, she called me “sick and twisted,” a “birth defect” and accused me of “making it all up to hurt her.”
That was the end. I cut her completely out of my life, and I never regretted it. She went on to marry Husband #4 and built a completely new family where she could be the doting grandma and pillar of the community.
She died four years ago this summer. I stumbled across her obituary accidentally while I was doing some research on Google. And unsurprisingly, neither my brother nor I (her only two natural children) were even mentioned.
So yeah, I hate Mother’s Day. With good reason.