Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother's Day makes me all prickly

I've never been a big fan of Hallmark holidays. I don't do Valentines Day or St Patricks Day or many of the other holidays invented solely to keep the greeting card industry in Godiva Chocolates. Mother's Day is definitely included in that category, but that's really not the reason I don't like this particular pseudo-holiday. I don't like it because I don't fit into any of the real categories of a celebrator. I don't have a mother. Oh, technically I do. Obviously I wasn't hatched from a dinosaur egg or anything. I have a biological woman that birthed me, and pretended to raise me to the ripe old age of 18, when she cast me out of her realm without much of a backwards glance. She's still alive, or so I've heard from my brother. She's almost 83, in fact, and still going strong. I wouldn't really know. I haven't spoken to her since April of 1980. It's a long time. We have absolutely no relationship. She doesn't know me as an adult. I don't know her as an elder.

My mother made very bad choices. Very negative, hurtful choices. She is living with the consequences of her choices. It's what they psychologists call a "natural consequence". If you're a shit to your children, they'll eventually give up, go away, and you lose them forever. Or at least that's how it works in my family.

I come from a really nutsoid group of ancestors. They're certifiably crazy all over my mother's side, and my father's side are just cold and somewhat hateful. As a child, I really never knew my relatives. We grew up far away from most of my cousins, who all lived on the east coast while we lived on the west coast. My father's family hated my mother. My mother hated my father's family. It was nice and cozy all around.

Additionally, my mother is certifiably nuts. She's bipolar, untreated, and rapid cycling. You never knew from moment to moment what might set her off. There were days, sometimes weeks when she took to her bed in a darkened room. There were times when she would hit the stores and come back with clothing she would never wear. She was constantly redecorating our house. It was never finished for long before sofas were recovered, new window treatments were hung, new rugs were laid. It was rather disorienting.

My mother wasn't exactly loving and demonstrative. Far from it. She hated to be touched. She wasn't a hugger or a kisser. She never told me that she loved me. But she did tell my friends that she wished I was never born. She did say often that she wished birth control pills were retroactive, as she would be the first person on line to purchase them. She told people that I was a bad accident. I grew up knowing that she resented me. Plus, my father was a serious mysoginist, so having daughters was a complete and utter disappointment to him.

Shall we just say that my upbringing was less than pleasant and leave it at that?

In my house, Mother's Day was dreaded. My mother expected things. She wanted fancy breakfasts in bed. She wanted to be taken out for a nice lunch. She wanted expensive gifts. She didn't want hand made things from her children. She wanted bling. She didn't seem to understand that children aren't really great providers of bling, so Mother's Day was often marked by my mother's tantrums.

I grew up dreading this holiday. Dreading it. More than anything, I wanted it to just pass by and I could pretend it wasn't happening. For many years, before I became a mother myself, I could do that. I certainly don't send my mother a card or flowers. She doesn't deserve any recognition of motherhood. She was a terrible mother. But now, I'm a mother and I still have that feeling of dread that comes with the mention of Mother's Day.

I'm confused by it. I don't see it as a positive day. I'm not sure why we're honoring mothers just this one day and not every day. I think that's wrong. Every day should be a celebration of motherhood. Um, yeah. On the other hand, I think there is a terrible push to make this yet another commercial holiday where the most important thing is the gifts. Which I just don't get.

When I read about how people leave hints around the house, or give their husbands lists of things to buy, or order things and then tell their husbands what they bought, I wonder why? This is so different than my way of thinking. I'd like my kids to make me cards, maybe presents, pick me some flowers, and make me a cake. I'm evidentally in the "make an effort" school of celebrating, because I honestly don't want a present as much as I want my kids to make an effort to honor me. If I got a homemade from scratch cake out of the deal, I'd be thrilled. If they made a card, wrote a poem, promised me to do something I've asked them to help me with, that's the gift that makes me the happiest. I want them to give of themselves, not give of Macys.

No matter what happens on Sunday, and I'm certainly not expecting much, what I really want is my children to tell me that they love me. That's what this day really is all about. Bling can go to someone else. I'm just hoping that someone steps up to the plate and bakes a cake!

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Blogger kenju said...

Margalit, I am very sorry that your mother was like that. I am sure it was hell for a child, and she is a woman to be pitied. I wish she had gotten treatment.

About the funny names: I have some doozies. Maybe we should trade lists someday and see if we have any new ones.

12/5/07 6:18 AM  
Blogger Tamar said...

Hi Margalit, I have been reading your blog for a little while now, but I'm a bit of a shy commenter so I keep waiting for a good time to jump in. I found you through Blogher, searching for some new blogs written by moms to read (as we are expecting our first). Anyway, what a powerful post. My heart goes out to you, having endured such a childhood. It just goes to show that you can become a thoughtful, compassionate person without being treated so yourself! I also agree on Mothers' day. I'm from Israel, and though now kids do make M-day things in school for their moms, we didn't when I was a kid. When we moved to the US, my mom was insulted by it - same things as you, it's a commercial holiday and why wouldn't you remember your mom every day? It was a good lesson to learn as a kid, actually. I am lucky in that my mom totally deserves to be appreciated every single day.

12/5/07 10:50 AM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

My heart aches for the little girl you. But you can break the cycle and make Mother's Day a special, empowering day. However, I do share your feelings of disaste at how all the holidays have become so over hyped and commercialized. I would like nothing more than for someone to pick up their underwear. Everyday. That's a pretty tall order though.

12/5/07 12:57 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

(Have read your blog but never commented before - this particular post prompted me to do so.)

While I know it's all in the past and you've dealt with it, I'm so sorry to read about what a rough childhood you had.

I hope your Mother's Day is a good one.

My kids informed me they're making me my favourite meal - meat loaf! (Yes, I'm that strange..)

12/5/07 5:14 PM  
Blogger canape said...

Happy Mother's Day to you - someone who I think is a good mom. You don't have to celebrate, but I think you deserve to be celebrated.

Hope you have a great day.

12/5/07 7:31 PM  
Blogger mothergoosemouse said...

You're very strong to have left your mother in the past. I'm sure it hurts, but I imagine it would hurt much more to have her in your life.

And you're right; we're very much of the same mind on this topic. Love and edible goodies make a lovely Mother's Day - and they make the rest of the year that much sweeter too.

12/5/07 9:34 PM  

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