It’s no secret that my relationship with my mother is rocky at best. I don’t want to talk about her, but this week I’ve been thinking a lot about being a mom. I would like to preface this by saying this post is not about anyone in particular. If you would like to get offended by what I say here, go ahead, but it won’t be because I was talking about YOU. Whomever you are.
First I would like to say that I think mother’s day is a sham. I mean, I’m a mother every single day out of the year and I don’t need one silly day for people to kiss my ass. How come people don’t feel like that stuff is important on other days? I will not say who I think came up with mother’s day, because it has offended my husband, but I just think the entire day is ridiculous. I find it offensive that there is only one day out of the year that we call our moms and say thank you. Shouldn’t that happen more often? I mean, really.
So, this mother’s day, my husband told me I could do whatever I wanted to do. I chose to go shopping all by myself. Any of you with children know what a special gift that is. I even went to the grocery store ALL by myself – no little hands putting extra things in the basket, no one throwing her body on the floor because I chose the wrong kind of fruit snacks. It was a little piece of heaven – and yet, most of this week I’ve gotten the stink eye from other moms when I tell them about my day. I don’t really know why it’s caused such reaction, but maybe I should say that it’s the one upside of having a shitty mother – I don’t have an obligation to spend time with her one Sunday in May. The downside? I don’t have a mother. Want to trade?
Here’s the thing about myself as a mother: I believe the only thing that matters is that my children are healthy and happy and mostly well behaved. I didn’t have children to fulfill some empty place in my life – frankly, I had kids so I could see who they’d look like – me or Steve. I wanted children because I love my husband so much that I wanted to make a human being with him, not because I needed something to do with my time. My children are my soul, but they do not define ME. Inside, I am still the same person I was before I had them – and I still need time to myself. Actually, I covet time to myself. And while the quantity of that time is wayyyyyyyy less than it was before the girls came along, it is still very important to my mental state and I make time for me every week. I MUST, or I will lose my mind.
I don’t know how my children will look at me when we are all older – will they remember playing Candyland and laughing at old MGM cartoons until we thought we might wet our pants? Will they remember that I read Goodnight Moon every single night of their lives thus far? Or will they remember me as that lady who never cleaned her bedroom until their daddy threw a fit, and who sometimes made breakfast for dinner because she was just too damn lazy to do anything more? I don’t know. But I do know this: my own mother did all the things that moms were “supposed” to do back in the day, she stayed home with us, made all the meals, did all the laundry, served on the PTA and the church committees. Where did it get her? She was miserable and still is, and we don’t have a relationship at all. Clearly, I don’t know what particular qualities make a good mother. I only know how to be me, and I know that sometimes “me” doesn’t quite fit the traditional mold. If I teach my girls anything, I hope they learn that they don’t have to fit into any particular category, and that just being who they are is always better than forsaking themselves to fit in.
This week on CBS Sunday Morning, they aired a great piece on the writer Erma Bombeck. I remember my grandmother having her books, but I wanted to know more about her so I did some digging. While she raised her children and wrote about those trials in a much different time, much of what she wrote hit close to home for me. Especially these words about a different kind of mother: “She wanted children too, but for another reason. They fulfilled a strong desire to love, raise, and leave as a legacy another human being. But they didn’t fulfill her ambitions, her struggle for individuality, or her need to make a contribution to this life, no matter how small.” I wish more moms would think about these words and spend less time catering to other people and more time worrying about themselves. What a place that would be – a different world for ourselves and for our children.