I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure. The non-mothers must sit in their churches, temples, mosques, recovery rooms and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark and See’s. There is no refuge — not at the horse races, movies, malls, museums. Even the turn-off-your-cellphone announcer is going to open by saying, “Happy Mother’s Day!” You could always hide in a nice seedy bar, I suppose. Or an ER.
I watched patiently as he held a shoe with both hands and moved his foot one way then the other while tugging the shoe with his hands, and then success. He held the shoelaces and made small circling motions with his hands, as he’d seen me do, and then went on to the next shoe. The look of victory and accomplishment was apparent in his face. Although he had asserted his independence in other matters before, this time was different. It touched my mother heart. For Dylan, our youngest child, was not a young child; he had just turned 18 years old.
Instead of holding on to me for dear life, she was generous enough to let me go – to let me be – and to trust that I would make the right decisions. Which in turn gifted me the confidence to trust myself. As a woman and writer, daughter then mother. No matter who judged me, she wouldn’t dare. That was never her deal. And so? I was always safe. For twenty-nine years, I have been safe.
Mother’s Day is a day that was created for Mothers, a day for a child to show their appreciation to the most important woman in their life. Which, btw does not apply to you, when your stepchildren already have a Mom who is very much a part of their lives. What I always find odd is that as a Stepmom you are supposed to perform motherly duties, without getting “the credit.” You are supposed to treat the children like your own. You are supposed to provide financial support. Do homework, cook, clean and drive around. You are a teacher, a mentor, a parent and friend. In all honesty, you are not really a friend. I hate when people say that. Sometimes in fact, you are the enemy.
In all seriousness, today is a day to give thanks for all that I’m being trusted with. (It doesn’t.make. sense.at.all. – not on paper, not in reality to be entrusted with ^that^)! I don’t know how to be fair, how to make enough time for everyone, how to meet individual needs, how to affirm them each, how to foster everyone’s special talents and abilities, how to fill the holes of jealousy, hurts, and human failures …. I don’t even know where to begin to do any of that.
I suppose my parting thought about this would be that for most women who don’t have incredibly high paying jobs or wealthy spouses, these “choices,” about work and family aren’t actually choices. We weigh our particular circumstances and attempt to figure out the best course of action. The notion that scads of women are chucking fulfilling jobs to be handmaidens to idealized, natural motherhood just doesn’t ring true to me. But I’m curious to hear what the other book clubbers think about Ms. Badinter’s lively work, and whether, as an envoy from pre-child-land, I don’t understand the kind of judgments that other mothers, and society, are truly making about your individual parenting decisions.
I cried for the loss I feel over the "normal", steady, quiet life we led, pre-LJ. I cried because I hate who I am, right now, as a mother. I’m angry and resentful and frustrated. I’m trying so desperately not to let those emotions direct themselves toward LJ, but I’m not always successful. I cried because I don’t like this kid…and I don’t want him in my house. I know that’s ugly.
Yes, there was a day a few decades ago when women engaged in the stay-at-home vs working mom judgment game. But these days, I think I’m safe in saying that most of the people I know are past that. There’s not enough energy to be spent judging what other women are doing. I have a hard enough time staying on top of work and family commitments; I don’t have time to mess with anyone else’s head.
Instead, when I heard criticisms of single moms, I always wondered why no one seemed to talk about the dads. It was as if our mothers had created us by themselves as a unique burden they’d chosen to bear. As I joked to one of my friends, if anyone had actually come to our house and seen our mothers’ lives, they would have known that precious few would have landed in that daily fight for economic survival by choice.
I’ve grown used to the pity stare Max or I sometimes get from other parents. I’m accustomed to explaining Max to kids who gape. It hasn’t always been that way; I used to get defensive and worked up. But I’ve realized that as Max’s mom, it’s my job (and privilege!) to help people understand that in many ways, he’s just like any other kid–and that although he has some differences, he’s still a kid. When kids ask "Why is he drooling?" I’ll patiently explain that it’s because his mouth doesn’t close all the way. And then I’ll tell them his favorite movie is Cars 2, and ask what theirs is. When parents at the playground stare, I’ll start the conversation and tell them that Max would really like it if their kids played with him. I do my best to bridge the gap–and hope that people will look past Max’s special needs and try to get to know the kid inside.
My first attempt in this medium is an interview with blogger and author Kelle Hampton. In the recording Kelle and I talked about her daughter Nella’s surprise diagnosis with Down syndrome at birth, the unfair suspicion sometimes aimed at positive mom bloggers, and more.
I mean, how many 55 or 62 year old women do you know who have the time to obsess over their adult children’s day to day lives? Even moms of adult children who might want to do things like reorganize the kitchen cabinets in the apartments that their adult children now inhabit are probably too busy paying their own bills or starting a new company or maybe even just enjoying things they couldn’t afford (in time or money) when they were still fully responsible for their offspring.