Today in Great Britain we celebrated Mothers Day. Women of all races and ages were showered with gifts and cards. Many chose to spend the day with their children, while others took it as their one day in the year to truly relax. Facebook, of course, was swamped with gushing messages to mums. Overflowing with love, support and sorrow for those mums who are no longer with us.
My profile wasn’t. On my profile I wished my lovely Mother in Law and my husbands Gran happy Mothers Day. I looked forward to our lunch together, where my husband would eat possibly more than his body weight in roast dinner. Later I will post pictures of me and my kids enjoying our day. All smiles.
My mother and I have always had somewhat of a rocky relationship. For years I believed it was my fault. I was lazy. Unreasonable. A trouble causer. When I chose to move away to University I ‘broke her heart’, and apparently I’ve done this time and time again since. My life with her was full of extremes. Either her best friend or enemy number one, with nothing in between.
There have been many points where the relationship has fallen apart altogether. Whole swathes of my adult life she hasn’t been a part of. Months and years of my children’s lives. My life. Even to the point she chose not to attend my wedding. My wedding of only close family and friends. A guest list of fourteen reduced by one. The elephant in the room that nobody mentioned. The saddest part? The saddest part was that rather than broken hearted, I felt relieved. Relieved that there would be no drama. No spite. No nastieness. Nothing to spoil my special day.
Most of our fallouts follow the same pattern. I am the black sheep. I have ‘wronged’ her in some way. I must apologise and beg forgiveness. When I don’t, I’m cast out. Except these wrongdoings don’t seem so terrible to me. To me it’s not wrong to ask someone to stop putting you down. It’s not wrong to stick up for your niece when she’s being called stupid. It’s not wrong to stick up for your values.
Even during the times I’ve been on ‘good’ terms with my Mother, this day has been hard. Cards which gush about unconditional love and unwavering support. Where are the ones that say, ‘thanks for being the only mum I have’? Or, ‘it’s nice that we can get along’? I guess there’s not much of a market for them. It’s not quite Hallmark is it? Then there’s the expected public message. What do I write? What could I put other than ‘Happy Mothers Day’? Nothing. Nothing true at least.
Each time I’ve finally pulled away from my Mother I’ve ended up slowly spiralling back. A voice in my head always niggles at me. ‘She’s your mum, you should be grateful. Any mother is better than no mother. You’re evil for hurting your mum this way.’ Throughout my life I’ve given chance after chance. Not just to her, but to so many people who weren’t any good for me. People who would tear me down and call it love. I wonder why that is?
During our latest stint of reconciliation I convinced myself things were different. She was trying and things were improving. I convinced myself that in time things would become almost like a normal Mother Daughter relationship. That the barriers put up were just whilst things settled.
Over a year later and the barriers were still there. Plans would be made with me and dropped if either of my siblings yelled jump. Hours would be spent pulling down other people, including my Dad who has loved and supported me entirely, and faces would be pulled when I didn’t join in. Old difficulties with my siblings were brought up, pointing out how I was still in the wrong. But the conversations always became too upsetting when I attempted to stick up for myself. I’d hear nothing for days, until such a time she was bored and alone.
The final catalyst came on a visit to my dads house. My husband was helping him with some work and I was attempting to entertain the kids in the garden. My heart meds haven’t been the best recently and it was hard. So, for the umpteenth time I asked my mum if I could pop over with the kids. NO. My brother was home and he doesn’t like me. So myself and my children (all except one who he adores) aren’t welcome. She had made plans to join us at my dads, but had apparently had changed her mind. When I asked would she still be coming I was met with agitation, but begrudgingly she showed.
Without even asking how the kids were she immediately launched into her usual rhetorick. I’m unreasonable. My brother is right. Holding onto grudges for over three years and refusing to be civil is perfectly normal and ok. Futile in my attempts to stick up for myself I ushered my toddler inside and away. Soon after she left.
It was that night that my backbone decided to make an appearance. A long text conversation ensued. (I learned long ago texting was best. That way I cannot have my words changed. I have the proof I need right there on my phone.) The crux of it was, I felt myself and my children deserved to be treated equally to my siblings and their families. She disagreed. In wanting this I was a trouble causer. Upsetting the apple cart. Things were just fine and I should accept what I was given, the way I had for so many years.
A few days later she text to wish me luck for an appointment. Acting as though nothing had happened. A tactic she had deployed for years. But this time I stood my ground. Treat me equally or leave me alone. (I don’t think it’s much to ask.) Her response? ‘Well Bye then!’
That was yesterday. Today was Mothers Day. I’m determined this time to be true to my word. Because I deserve a Mother who treats me equally to my siblings. My children deserve a Grandma with whom they can celebrate Christmas and Birthdays. Who’s house is a haven for them.
So, if you’re reading this Mother, here’s my message to you today. Thank you. Thank you for teaching me I can thrive in any environment. I can learn to love myself even when those around me show me no real love. Thank you for helping me become the Mummy I am, by teaching me all about the relationship I don’t want to have with my children. I do hope you have a lovely day, because I don’t hate you. I’m just ready to believe that I’m better off with no mother in my life than one who doesn’t love me completely. The way I love my children.