Iím about to have my first Motherless Motherís Day if you donít count me. That is, I am a mother and as such I will be celebrated by my adoring children but I wonít be able to bestow any honors on my own Mother who died last July. What I feel more than anything is bewildered at my lack of sorrow. I miss my Mom but Iím not feeling all that sad.
Ever since my premier as the Golden Girl of Motherís Day I have focused on what the day means for me. I donít think I ever forgot my mother but I know that I often realized with a start on the Saturday before Motherís Day that I still hadnít sent a card and that I had best call an FTD florist before there were no more flowers to be found. Buying my mother presents was not all that satisfying as I never knew if she would genuinely appreciate it or it would be met wtih a strained ĎOhĒ followed by a perfunctory, ďThank you, dearĒ delivered with a smile stretched thin as onion skin.
My mother wasnít a mean or a bad woman Ė she was just very bruised. Her life was sort of an endless series of disappointments and let downs from her Grandmother refusing to let her cut off the sleeves of her undershirts so they wouldnít show below the capped sleeves of her little girl dresses to being widowed with 4 children at the age of 35. When it comes to cosmic slights having your 37 year old husband die in his sleep must certainly rank in the top 10. My mother was predisposed to seeing the world and everyone in it as shadowy specters angling to make her miserable and when the powers that be delivered the coup de gr‚ce she knew she was right.
Her response was to self medicate with alcohol and in the process become this frightening, unpredictable terror. Maternal instinct kept her generous and caring most of the time and she took good care of us but boy, could she be ugly. She heaped her own low self-esteem and horrible body image issues on me like a teen-aged boy filling his plate at an all you can eat buffet. She could go from sobbing and telling me I was her favorite child to calling me a fat whore in matter of minutes. Even in adulthood I could not stand to hear her question my judgment about anything without wanting to scream, ďIíM NOT AN IDIOT, GODDAMNIT!Ē
In the end we did okay. For the last 7 or so years of her life she lived near me, widowed once again, and we saw each other once or twice a month. With the exception of an occasioal soggy phone call I almost never experienced her drunk. We had a good relationship. I know she loved me and I loved her, too and on Motherís Day we would usually get together. My kids were old enough by then to take care of both of us. They took us for picnics in the park some years or my Mom would come over to my house and we would have a little brunch thing. It was nice and it was proper but what I always looked forward to was the kids bringing me a latte and the paper in bed and the kids giving me cards and the kids paying tribute to me. I am looking forward to that as I write this entry. It has really been a me, me, me Hallmark Holiday for the last 22 years.
This year I am feeling a bit of a slow leak in my bubble of anticipation, though. Too bad my Mom can’t come over for coffee cake and fruit salad and to do my Sunday Paper crossword puzzles when I finally do get out of bed….. Damn.