Un-Mother’s Day

My Mother on a different day

My mother and my son

Mother’s Day opens with breakfast in bed and other culinary delights shared with family. I don’t recall if I ever sat up in bed through the burnt toast routine, but there may have been one year. It was a long time ago.

I rarely followed through with my own mother either, though I have a vague recollection of perhaps supplying the breakfast one year. When your mother is always up early, it is not easy and it was never really a tradition in our house. There was little fuss around Mother’s day.

Even years ago, I dismissed the day as commercial and therefore of minimal relevance. I think after my grandmother died, the importance of the day (for me at least) diminished further. The ritual dissipated and I left home and moved interstate and generally marked the day with a phone call. Duty done.

I miss my mother every day of course, but today especially is a day of sadness and embarrassment. Sadness because there are times when I really want her company or support. I want to tell her things, or to share things with her. There are days when I want her to kiss it better.

Embarrassment because I realised in hindsight how much I had taken her for granted over the years, and for all the things I never said to her and should have. I’m not putting on the rose-tinted glasses; there were times when she was vitriolic or manipulative, or conniving even. It was only in hindsight though that I realised how much she had done for me and sometimes at what personal cost.

One of the illuminating moments was when I became a mother myself. It wasn’t instant understanding, but gradually I came to understand what the status entailed, especially as I was raising a self-centred child who thought the world revolved around him. The older he got, the stronger this belief was. This is understandable as a child develops an appreciation of their place in the world and acquires degrees of independence. At least I don’t have a child who is tied to my apron strings.

My child no longer speaks to me. This may be a short-term situation and may not. I have no way of knowing, but he has decided I no longer have a role in his life. We live at some distance from each other, and the challenges of misunderstandings have not helped. I have extended the olive branch, which he has ignored. So be it. Today is a reminder I wish I didn’t have.

A day like today is tinged with sadness and regret. It is a day to get through as painlessly as possible. Instead, my heart goes out to all the mothers and would-be mothers for whom the day is a stark reminder of a situation that is not of their choosing.