Go on social media today and you will see a multitude of oft-repeated Mother’s Day tributes. Or regretful statements about celebrating Mother’s Day when a mother has passed.
This year I join that club as it’s the first Mother’s Day since my mother passed. But Mother’s Day, even when she was alive and well, was fraught with anxiety for me. The choosing of an appropriate card took hours. Because my mother and I were not close. She wasn’t the mother I wanted her to be. Nor, I realized in my more mature years, was she capable of being that kind of mother.
So I couldn’t send her a card filled with lies about what a wonderful mother she was or how close we were. How she’d always been there for me, cheering me on in all of my endeavors. True, she was technically always there. But enthusiasm was not part of her mothering style.
I had to find a generic card that didn’t go too deeply on sentiment or untruths. Added to that? I had to find something similar for my mother-in-law. I read a lot of Mother’s Day cards over the years. I tried to be the “good” daughter. But I was never going to be the daughter my mother would have liked. I guess that made us even.
But one thing my mother taught me was I did not want to have a relationship with my children like the one she had with me. I did my best to let them grow up to be who they were instead of trying to force them into a mold of my own choosing. To say I made mistakes along the way would be putting it mildly. I made a ton and we all lived with the regret.
But today? I get the kind of greeting card from my daughter I never could have, in good faith, sent to my mother.
Children may not always become who their parents hoped they’d be. And children may not always have the kind of parents they wished for. But my mom taught me many valuable lessons for which I am grateful. She professed to love me, and I believe that was true, even if she didn’t love me the way I needed her to.
I know now parenting is not easy. As a child I didn’t understand my parents were who they were. Human beings with flaws and hopes and dreams and disappointments and baggage.
I thank my mother for all she did, and I can see now she was the mother I was supposed to have. Because she helped shape me into the kind of person who raised the kind of daughter who sends me the kind of Mother’s Day card I could never send to her.