advice / dad / death / grief / happiness / life / mom / Mother's Day

That Holiday Again

family

It’s that holiday again.

Every holiday seems to come with issues, right?

New Year’s Day has its resolutions and people who mock resolutions. It makes Facebook hit us with the-year-in-review, which for some folks is more of a reminder-of-heartache-loss-and failure. Thanks, FB!

Valentine’s Day makes some lovers happy, makes some lovers guilty (gifts? argh!), and irritates some single people half to death.

St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo help many folks get drunk and frustrate the rest. (Do you even know what the holiday means?)

Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day…honor those we ask to sacrifice for war and let’s argue about war and peace.

Independence Day and Thanksgiving…fireworks, good food, and gratitude and debates about slavery, history, and hypocrisy.

Halloween…sweet and dark…and a lot of fear that some people are worshiping the devil by wearing silly outfits and eating too much candy. (Every time a doorbell rings, a demon gets its pitchfork. Trick or Treat!)

Christmas…joy…and a lot of fear other people are celebrating it improperly. (Celebrate it my way or get off my lawn!)

Father’s Day and Mother’s Day encourage us to focus on our parents for once instead of demanding they focus on us. That’s the gist, except it is never so simple, is it?

Some people have terrific relationships with their parents. Some people have both parents and celebrate these holidays with happiness. If you are one of those people, you probably know how lucky you are…unless you live in a dream world and don’t read the news or know other human beings.

We have a list of people who find the day anything from meaningless to excruciating: people who generally dislike holidays and their marketing, orphans and children in the foster care system, parents whose children are dead or missing, those of us whose mother or father is dead, and those of us whose mother or father was cruel, abusive, or indifferent. And there are those souls who are forever disappointed in such days because they rarely measure up to the hype. But a holiday is a poor measure of love. (Though it can be a great measure of disposable income.)

I am not a naysayer of holidays. I like them. Sometimes I complain about the obligations they come with. (Save me from traveling in holiday traffic!) But I get along with my family and don’t mind spending time with them. (But the traffic!)

 

But Mother’s Day is tricky. I’m a mom and I’m happy to have a lovely dinner and maybe even a small gift. (Nothing expensive because I’ll worry about the money.) A wish for a happy mother’s day is appreciated. Nonetheless, my mother died in 1989 when I was 21 and I miss her every day. I miss she doesn’t know her grandson or her son-in-law. I miss she doesn’t know about my novel or my art. I miss never getting to see what she would have done after graduating from college at 45. What art would she have made? What would she think of blogs and FB? Would she like the new Star Wars? Would she have enjoyed Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings? How would she have aged? What would she have become? And what conversation would we have had? And what would be the answers to all the questions I never got to ask? How would we have resolved the issues that still needed resolving?

At least I loved my mother and she loved me. I know people and have read plenty of accounts of people with terrible mothers. I can’t think of a greater trauma in life than to have a hateful or indifferent mother. It’s our first relationship in this world. It shapes us like no other. Having a dead mother is sad. Having a mother you never want to see again is its own nightmare. When your mother is dead people tend to offer condolences and hugs. When you say you don’t talk to your mother and haven’t seen her in years, people aren’t sure how to respond. Some people make the mistake of suggesting you try harder, make an effort, be more understanding.

I know someone who helped her abusive father until the day he died. Sure he beat her and her siblings and he never said thanks or gave her a present or said anything kind or encouraging. He was mean and racist and horrible. But she would never cut ties with him because “he’s my father.” That’s her decision, but I’m not a believer in sticking by someone just because they’re family. Blood is not carte blanche to abuse. Get away from people who poison you.

In any event, it’s Mother’s Day again, and though I find it complicated, I don’t want my grief to get in the way of other people’s joy. If you’ve got a great mom, make sure she knows. Enjoy the time you have and all those cliches.

Find happiness in the day.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

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