I have a friend who is grieving, her mother died three weeks ago. I have many friends who have been missing their mothers for many years. I live with a man who has missed his mother since he was only 15, and yet my father had his mother until he was 75. Some of my friends miss their mothers with the rawness and ache now, years later, that they felt initially when their mothers died, it has not eased for them, the missing…It is a rare day for me to go 24 hours without talking to, or texting with, mine. I know women who wanted to be mothers but couldn’t make it happen. I know women who did not want to be mothers and were diligent to never let it happen. I know women who had good, generous, loving mothers, and I know women who had cruel, harsh, and hard mothers. I have known men who were, or are, practically best friends with their mothers, and I have known men whose relationships with their mothers were minimal, or required formality at best. I know many women my age who are well aware that their time with their mothers is coming to an end, sooner rather than later…that’s a hard pill to swallow, the knowing, but we do all know that we do all die, sometime, someway… I didn’t want to be a mother, at the time it was happening to me, it’s painful to be honest, but nothing was “right” about any of it, but when I heard the words, “it’s a girl,’ it’s what I wanted most in the world…to be this girl’s mother. It is still, all these decades later, one of the greatest joys of my life; knowing her, this woman, my neighbor, my daughter, my dearest one…
There are so many different kinds of mothers and ways in which they perform the job of mothering, and when you really think about it, we all just end up with the one we get…some have been very lucky and some have not. I have heard stories over the years, as I know people who are teachers and nurses, about children who desperately needed a good mother, but didn’t have one. I have also heard stories about mothers who are so good at the “job” that they should, or could, offer classes! Not every woman who becomes a mother should be one, this is a fact that we all well know. Some learn by doing from the first hour, their animal instinct kicks in, and some have learned by doing from the time they were ten and started babysitting, or had helped with a younger sibling. Some women are cut out for it and some just find their way through it. It is, just like as in life, different for everyone.
I don’t know one woman who is a good mother who has not exasperatedly wailed in wonder, “what did I get myself into?” and I don’t know one woman who is a good mother who has not looked upon the sleeping face of her child and sighed in gratitude, “what did I do to deserve this level of love?” My heart hurts this time of year for those who are missing their mothers, or who wished to be mothers, or had bad ones…I am not any of these people. I have a mom, I got to be a mom, and my mom and I navigated life pretty well and my daughter and I navigated life pretty well, and she is navigating life pretty well with her own girls…Like most “holidays” I think they are profit related, created for the economy, because a day like Mother’s Day is a bit silly…when you are one, you ARE ONE EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. When you have a good mother, you appreciate it for every single day of your life, and I suspect, if you’ve had a bad one you care not to think of her on mother’s day, or most days for that matter.
My mom and I disagree about a lot of things. We agree about a lot of things too. I think that finding the balance, as I always say, finding common ground, is how we best get through life now, now that she is a great-grandmother, their GG, and I am a Nana, as we watch my daughter start to manage the rough years, as we both remember all too well. My daughter’s girls are soon to be 15 and 13; to keep loving them hard and raising them with love and rules, and yet letting them explore living and growing on their own, making their own mistakes and taking responsibility for their actions and their choices, picking them up and dusting them off when they stumble, oh it is so hard…the hardest bits of motherhood, as most any mother will tell you, are for my daughter, coming now…it is really hard to love a person so much when you don’t like a lot of things that they do, or that they say, but still we keep loving them, and if you are lucky, like we were…you end up someplace where there is an ease, as we have found in our own family…my mom and I get along quite well now, we don’t talk much about that which divides us and I focus on what I love about her, and she focuses on what she loves about me, and we try not to let the “other stuff” color our world too much. My daughter is one of my favorite people and her daughters are the sunshine of my life. Every day is mother’s day in our family because “mothering” is a ‘job’ that never gets a day off, never has a vacation, never has closed office hours, never too busy to be bothered, never not available…we are FOR EACH OTHER, for every minute of every day for the rest of our breaths. That is just the way it is. Mother’s Day is every single day when you love the women who are your women.