I have Mother’s Day baggage. It’s not that I had a bad mother. On the contrary, I had a great one. She was amazing in so many ways. Her name was Doris.
I miss her and I think of her fondly today, so that isn’t the problem at all.
My baggage stems from many years in ultra-conservative fundamentalist or evangelical churches and their practices surrounding this holiday (which I think Hallmark invented as a way to make money, but that’s another issue).
These churches (five different ones over 30 years) would call all the mothers to the front on Mother’s Day. They’d give us a carnation. And then the pastor would preach a sermon about the importance of mothers and their influence.
And even though I think I was a pretty good mom to my two kids, I would leave those services feeling like an utter failure. Every single time. And after about a decade of this, I grew to really dislike Mother’s Day.
I also didn’t want my kids to feel it was a day full of expectations, and so I had a hard time accepting whatever they’d do for me on that day.
And the part about the expectations—I guess that really does go back to my own mother. She was warm and loving and she did so much for me. But come Mother’s Day, I knew I had better do right by her or she’d be hurt, and I did not want that.
So it meant that I always needed to get her a corsage for church and lunch out, and also buy an additional present. Even when I had a three-year-old and a newborn, I tramped to the florist for a corsage and to the mall for another gift, then drove it to her house so that she’d know how much she meant to me. And I took care of the card and the gift and the shipping for my mother-in-law as well. And I remember that in that particular year, I felt resentful.
So this morning as my new husband and I sat waiting for the church service (in a different type of church, thank God) to begin, I leaned over and said, “If he starts getting all weird over Mother’s Day, I’ll get up and leave.” The look of horror on his face. I wish you could have seen it. He’d never heard about my Mother’s Day baggage and I’m sure I sounded more than a little awful. Angry. Ungrateful. Not the kind of feelings you hope to have inside of church.
Anyway: The pastor barely mentioned Mother’s Day (YAY!!! BRAVO!!! HALLELUJAH!!!) and it was all fine. Both of my adult children touched base this weekend, which was lovely and just right.
And this evening I’m going to finish a quilt that I made years ago after my mom died unexpectedly when I was 36. I bought the main print because I knew she’d have loved it. I hand embroidered her name and mine in the center block because it helped me feel better in the days after her death.
And then I will wrap myself in it and look up at the stars and remember her, and thank her and forgive her and miss her.
Just as I hope my own children will do one day.