May 9, 2014

Standing in Recognition

I don't mean to be a downer, but I've got to get something off my chest:

Mother's day is a bitch.

Ok sorry!  That's offensive, I know.  The truth is there are some great things about Mother's day- celebrating moms, cute cards, flowers, breakfast in bed, and whatever silly-but-heartwarming thing your kid made at school (hint: it probably involves noodles and elmer's glue).  I have the privilege of enjoying all of these things on Mother's day, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I am!

I'm just saying, it's so much more complicated than that.  My kids celebrate with me, but I'm not their one and only- they've got another mother out there somewhere.  And they love her and they miss her, and no matter how much they love me, if you think they're not thinking about her on Mother's day, you're kidding yourself.  Slim is already stressed out about it.  It doesn't help that their biological grandmother recently told them their mother "disappeared."  (Why would she tell a group of young children that, you ask?  Because this woman doesn't pull her punches, that's why.)  Of course what that really means is just that their grandma doesn't know where she is right now- which isn't uncommon with an addict.  Still, in Slim's mind it means every terrible scenario she can come up with must be true.

So for our kids Mother's day is a mixture of grief and loss and confusion, and let's be honest: no matter what your situation is, mother's day isn't really about mothers, is it?  It's really for your kids- it's a time for them to practice gratitude, (even though truthfully they're  too young and inexperienced to know gratitude), and it's a time for them to feel great about themselves because they made you this lovely card and noodle necklace.  Maybe it's different when your kids are adults, but if they have children of their own I'm willing to bet it's not.  Once your kids have kids then they're in the thick of it and it's really about them and your grandchildren, and you're ok with that because you've been there and you get it, and you love your grandchildren so much you don't really mind.  In many ways I think Mother's day is just a reminder for those of us lucky enough to be mothers to be thankful for it, (and a healthy payday for greeting card companies, I suppose.)

It's not just situations like ours that make Mother's day complicated.  People lose their mothers, mothers lose their children, and frankly some mothers and their offspring simply don't get along.  I'm not here to complain- I'm really really not.  I think that despite the complexities it's GOOD to have a day dedicated to the mother-child relationship on which you can celebrate or grieve (or both) in whatever way fits your situation.  I'm only saying, let's cut the crap.  It's not all hearts and flowers, and if your day holds pain and solemnity in addition to, or instead of, warmth and joy- that's ok.  Consider this a shout out, of sorts- a moment of standing in recognition of those who've experienced loss.  Just because your life doesn't look like a Hallmark commercial doesn't make it less beautiful or worthwhile.

So how are we doing Mother's day this year?  This will be our third one together as a family.  The first year we didn't do much of anything- we knew they were thinking of their mom and we thought it would be insensitive to make a big fuss over the day.  We were wrong, ignoring it just made everyone more miserable.  Last year we celebrated and it was fine, but I feel like we could have done more to acknowledge their grief over their other mom.  (And by more I mean anything, we could have done anything but we didn't.)

This year we'll still celebrate, because it is fun.  Dear finds comfort in rituals and 'normalcy', and she's been planning it for weeks.  In addition to french toast and homemade cards I insist that Chris buys me a present- something totally materialistic and shallow that will make me happy just because it's a thing I want.  Then we'll spend part of the day with Chris's mom and his family, which is always fun for us and the kids.  (My mom is in Washington so I'll just talk to her on the phone sometime that day.)  The thing I want to add this year is some kind of tribute to their other mom.  Without her my kids wouldn't be here, after all.  It's not really about her though, it's about them.  I'm thinking something kind of cheesy and symbolic that might be comforting for kids- maybe releasing some balloons into the sky with a note, I love you mom?  I haven't decided for sure what to do, but I'll probably present a couple of ideas to the kids and let them choose.

Then next month will be Father's day, and we'll be celebrating Chris as well as coping with the fact that they lost their other dad last November.  Sigh.  So here's wishing everybody whatever they need out of Mother's day- be it happiness or something else- and hopefully a little peace.

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