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madmax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 10:49 AM
Original message
Unmothered, on Mother's Day
Unmothered, on Mother's Day

Remembering my mother on the holiday she hated.

By Meghan O'Rourke Posted Thursday, May 6, 2010, at 9:41 AM ET

My mother never liked Mother's Day. She thought it was a fake holiday dreamed up by Hallmark to commodify deep sentiments that couldn't be expressed with a card. So we never observed it when I was growing up. She would much rather have had our company for the first Saturday in Mayshe loved horse racing, and Derby Day most of allthan at an obligatory brunch at an overcrowded restaurant eight days later. When she was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 things changed a little, for me at least. Suddenly Mother's Day had some meaning. It became an inscribed moment to try to hold on to what was slipping away before my eyes: namely, having a mother.

This Mother's Day is the second since she died, on Christmas Day, 2008 (I wrote about her death and my grief in Slate), but last year I was too dazed to notice much. Now, for the first time, the endless mentions of the holiday everywhere ("Make your Mother's Day reservations now!") have forced me to take stock, whether I want to or not. Where will I be on Sunday? Where am I now? I wonder. Mainly, I feel that while my grief has lesseneddramaticallymy sense of being motherless has intensified. I hadn't anticipated this. The first grips of grief were so terrible that I couldn't wait to get beyond them, to a state I hoped might be "better." But as each new day arrives I find myself, though suffering less acutely, more unmothered. Strange. And: not part of the contract!


Yahoo! Buzz FacebookMySpace Mixx Digg Reddit del.icio.us Furl Ma.gnolia SphereStumbleUponCLOSEPeople with mothers can't really know what this is like, and I have new empathy for friends who lost their mothers when they were young. I was 32, but even at this age, it hardly feels minor to lose one's model at a juncture when I still have so many questions: whether and when to have children, what to do about my mild allergy to the institution of marriage, what a life's work should truly be. My mother was about my age when she was promoted from schoolteacher to administrator, becoming head of the middle school at Saint Ann's, where I was then entering the seventh grade. I remember how nervous she was speaking in public the first time, at a meeting the day before school started. She fretted all that morning, dressing. I agonized with her, because I was deeply shy, and such a task seemed heart-freezingly terrifying. Afterward I asked her how it went. She said, "You know, you just have to do it. You don't have a choice. And then once you've done it, you can do it again, and it isn't so bad."

This was her pragmatic approach to lifenot idealized, not perfectionistic, but intensely present. If you could be present, the rest would work itself out. Now, of course, she's not present, and yet I have to figure out how I can be. One thing that helps is summoning up her words and her jokeseven her little rebukes; I might get irritated by something trivial, and then I catch myself saying (often out loud) the very refrain of hers that used to so irritate me: "Lighten up, Meg." In fact, as the grief passed, I began to feel my mother inside meusually on holidays or in groups. I'm not much like my mother; that role falls to my brothers, who have more of her blithe and freewheeling spirit. But lately there are these moments when it's as if her spirit enters and inhabits me; it's palpable, like being possessed. The word inspiration comes from the Latin words for "in" and "breath" (spirare, which also gives us our word for "spirit"). Maybe I've breathed my mother in.

More: http://www.slate.com/id/2253115
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 11:03 AM
Response to Original message
1. my 15 yr old son and i rounded the corner of an isle at grocery store yesterday
Edited on Sat May-08-10 11:52 AM by seabeyond
ten people were standing at the cards. i ask them, .... and son, ... and myself, what holiday is it. my mind is trying to find the month and what holiday is in may. i see mothers day and oh, mothers day i say. pffft.... skipped that. i have no need to play in mothers day, know sons love me, daily. no need for validation, assurance, appreciate. i am appreciated daily, as are my kids and my hubby as a unit.

i am with your mother

my sons were 2 months and 2 yrs when my mother died. having no choice, i lived in sons world, not a world of pain of loss. that was truly a blessing. the beauty of babies, and the voice of my mother constantly.....

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Raschel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I've been motherless for the majority of my life. I take pleasure in being a mother.
Perhaps it's easier for me because of time. I'm sorry for your so recent loss.
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 11:55 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. she died 12 yrs ago. i was just saying
she died when my babies were young, and having babies to take care of was probably a blessing when she died. it help me in a mother type connection with her, even with her not there.....
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 11:55 AM
Response to Original message
4. Its too bad your mother didn't know the actual origins of Mothers Day.
Perhaps she would have liked it better.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

I think I understand your pain. My son was kidnapped when he was 8, and Mother's Day has been horrible for me since then.
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 11:57 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. oh, bobbo
i am so sorry.

:hug:
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dana_b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. omg bobbo I'm so sorry!
I know that sounds lame as sorry doesn't do it justice. I can't even imagine but I will probably hug my daughter a little tighter tomorrow.

I pray you and he find each other again some day.
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AllyCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. Oh Bobbolink I am so sorry.
I cannot imagine that kind of pain and loss. Hugs and comfort to both you and your son.
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renate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 01:57 PM
Response to Reply #4
10. ...I am so sorry
There just aren't any words to express how sorry I am for your horrible loss.

:cry: :hug:
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madmax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 02:31 PM
Response to Reply #4
14. bobbolink my heart cries for you
:hug: I simply can not ever imagine your pain. So very sorry.
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Thank you. I didn't want to reply to the others because I don't want to divert
Edited on Sat May-08-10 05:14 PM by bobbolink
from your own message.

I appreciate your concern. As someone else said, you never "get over it".

For some of us, Mother's Day is painful, and I wish that we would be remembered, too.

:hug:

I'm going to edit this to say that a friend and I had a conversation about this yesterday, after she read the original Mother's Day Proclamation that I printed out. (If you didn't read my thread on that, it was in reaction to the wars, including the Civil War.) We were talking about the pain of being a mother who had sons on different sides of the war, and losing those sons to that awful war. THAT is unimaginable pain. That would be enough to make any mother lose her mind.

Our local paper had a picture today of women who have lost their children to violence....killed on the street. What kind of Mother's Day is it for them?

Hallmark doesn't have a card for them, either.
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madmax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 08:19 PM
Response to Reply #16
19. I read the Proclamation and sent
it to all the women in my contact list, those with and without children. Everyone has a Mom.

I have a dear friend whose son committed suicide - as you can imagine tomorrow will not be a good day for her.

Don't worry about adding to a thread as to not take away - you ADDED valued insight and so much more to a day that most only associate with joy or the expected loss of a parent due to age. There are so many more demensions connected to this day.

With much love and more understanding, thank you. :hug:
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 09:27 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. Thank you... you are very generous. You are dealing with pain, and that is important
to get support with.

I really appreciate that you sent out that Proclamation. I think it is important, especially for young women, to know more about our history.

As I read more and more replies to your thread.... I see how many of us are hurting in one way or another.

What I'm thinking is that tomorrow we need to have a support thread for those of us who find Mother's Day painful. We are forgotten, and all too often feel like we have to paste on a smile.

There are so many of us.

What do you think?
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madmax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 09:38 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Absolutely
Where there is Joy there is Sorrow. Those who hurt need not hide their hurt and pain. We are family.

I hope you'll consider the OP. You have a wonderful way of expressing yourself.
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kas125 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-09-10 12:07 AM
Response to Reply #4
26. I'm so sorry. I know your pain, or part of it, anyway. My own
son was taken when he was eight, but it was by his father so at least I didn't have to worry that he was with someone who would want to harm him. It was six months before it became illegal to kidnap your own child which went into effect January 1, 1981, so what he did was not against the law and I got no help from the authorities. I didn't know where they'd gone and it took years of searching and more years of court fights to get him back because they wound up in the one state that does not honor other states' custody decrees, or didn't then. My situation was unbearable; yours is worse. I'm truly sorry and I hope you and your son are reunited someday.
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-09-10 02:24 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Father=safe? My son was beaten by his father. Repeatedly.
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kas125 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-10-10 01:10 AM
Response to Reply #27
28. Oh, no. I'm sorry I said that and after rereading it I did think
Edited on Mon May-10-10 01:11 AM by kas125
that maybe I didn't say the right thing to convey what I was trying to. I'm sorry you're still hurting and to tell the absolute truth, I still am, too, just not in the same way anymore. I hope with all my heart that your son is okay and that someday you'll find each other again. And I know that I don't know you, but I do know some of what you've felt, so if you ever need to vent I'm always here and willing to listen.
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badgerpup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 12:20 PM
Response to Original message
8. This Mother's Day...
...is the first one my Mom's gonna miss...she became eligible for 'celebrating' Memorial Day last month.

I'd thank both parents (when they were alive) for being ineligible for Memorial Day (and that's exactly how I put it).

Dad, bless him...asked me "You mean, for being vertical?" :P
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tango-tee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 01:08 PM
Response to Original message
9. A beautiful tribute to a mother.
Thank you for posting.
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Missy Vixen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 02:01 PM
Response to Original message
11. My mom died when I was 30
There is a gap in my life knowledge because she's not here. Even more, there are so many things I wish I could talk with her about.

It never goes away.
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 02:28 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. No, big losses never go away. Humans aren 't built that way.
But we live in a tough, harsh society where people say things like "Get over it." "Get on with your life."

Its all so very wrong. :pals:
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Missy Vixen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 04:28 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. bobbolink, I am so sorry for your loss
I know the years haven't relieved the grief of the loss of a child at all.

I hope that somehow, some way, he will find his way back to you.

:hug: :hug: :hug:
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sdnewbie Donating Member (11 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #12
17. Sending you a hug
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madmax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
13. self delete
Edited on Sat May-08-10 02:30 PM by madmax
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jxnmsdemguy65 Donating Member (481 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 08:16 PM
Response to Original message
18. I can't stand Mother's Day...
I lost my mom when I was 13... it's always a very painful weekend of memories.
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madmax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 09:41 PM
Response to Reply #18
22. Sorry for loss jxmsdemguy65
That's the thing about Holidays - joyful for some not for everyone. :hug:
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roguevalley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 11:23 PM
Response to Reply #18
23. my angel passed on May 28, the day after my sister's birthday. She
Edited on Sat May-08-10 11:23 PM by roguevalley
waited one more day for my sis to pass onward. I love mother's day because she deserved a day, to be feted and loved and receive all the attention she earned from a lifetime of being wonderful. Bobbolink, you have my heart today. I hug you. :hug:
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Dappleganger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 11:29 PM
Response to Original message
24. My Mom left when she was only 66, August 2008.
It's still really hard to talk about it, and today it's been like somebody put a bag over my head. Our oldest daughter (who was her first and probably favorite grandchild) is about to graduate and she's not here to see her little girl all grown up.

Thanks for what you wrote...it was very beautiful. :)
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nolabear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 11:48 PM
Response to Original message
25. My mother died when I was 13. "Mother" is a strange concept from the child's perspectve
but I love my sons with all my heart and think I've been a pretty good mother in spite of performing without a net. Tomorrow they each come around and I get to be with them, and see what a good job we did. I like it.
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