Mother’s Day Baggage
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.
Tags: daughters, mom, mother's day, scrap quilts
Diane, I can really relate to you words-similar background but I also see in hindsight I really did miss some big things-thought my job was protecting them which of course it is but what about training them to love God with all your hearts-did that with my eldest early on but lost sight of that as I sought God myself but failed to teach that to my sons. God forgives but it is hard to not let go of the remorse of that when others bear the consequence for my failure.
Oh, Diane, your honesty is so refreshing! Thank you.
We went to one of those churches also and I always felt so bad for the women who were not mothers. Were they less of a person because they did not have children? They often were the ones who gave of their time and energy to the church. I would have family to our house for mother’s day. My mother, my mother-in-law, my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandmother, Allen’s two aunts that had never married and a cousin of my grandmother’s who had never married were given flowers and presents by me. I loved them all! But did I really ever enjoy mother’s day? Not really……
Thank you for writing such a beautiful story of your mother. My mother passed away in February just shy of her 98th birthday. I want to make something special to remind me of the years that she loved me unconditionally and you have inspired me.
My mother hated Mother’s Day, she thought it was a gimmick by Hallmark too. My childhood was not, at all easy, thank God for my fathers love and protection. My mother is now 91, mild dementia, and tho she still isn’t fond of Mother’s Day, she did appreciate the chocolates and plant my siblings and I sent her. Her childhood was very difficult too, perhaps why she disliked Mother’s Day too. Even though we weren’t close, I’ve evolved, forgiven her (no need to tell her because she never saw she did anything wrong – but that’s ok – I know she was a product of her environment), and will miss her dearly. I know I’ll miss her dearly, for the relationship I would’ve loved to have had.
Your quilt you made, in her honor, is beautiful. I love the focal fabric.
It’s funny I found myself thinking of a “bad” mother’s day that I had the day after Mother’s Day. My daughters were teenagers (about 13 and 15) and they got me a waffle iron. I’ve never been the type of woman that enjoyed cooking (unless I’m cooking a quilt). I cooked because we had to eat. I held down a full time job from the time my kids were 7 and 10 and still made sure I was available for all their activities. When I expressed dismay at the gift, they said “we thought you could make Daddy waffles”. I burst into tears. We’ve never discussed that day or why I felt so hurt. I hope now that they are mothers maybe they understand why I felt completely under appreciated. I also hope they never feel that way as mothers but most of all I know I have to let that Mother’s Day go. Your message is helping me see that.
Oh, you bring back memories. Mine relate more to a mother-in-law and a grandmother.
Hope you spent this holiday petting fabric, getting dirty in the garden, or whatever else made you happy.
wow. Just wow. My mother was a mother in addition to being a working woman and spouse to my dad. It wasn’t her ONLY vocation. It was ONE of her vocations. She knew that some of the best mothers did not have children of their own. My mother thought that Mother’s day was the day to be grateful for the wonderful children she had, no big gifts or cards needed. Was I ever lucky to get her for a mother!! Love the quilt BTW. One thing my mother could not do (or her mother either) was sew…I am self taught! lol
Diane, just read your blog and truly enjoyed it. My mother and father separated when I was thirteen, then divorced. I was living with my mother when she left without telling anyone where she was. After three days I started living with my Dad. I won’t go into detail on here, but in all of the years after she never once told me she was sorry or acknowledged the pain and heartache her abandonment caused me. I have, because I have friends with similar stories about mother issues, often thought that the mothers of the fifties and sixties felt they automatically deserved our respect and love. They grew up in a tough time, the depression and dirty thirties. They, in that mindset, thought they gave their children a much better life than they had. What did we have to complain about! Haha Before I continue to ramble, my thought on this whole topic, is that we forgive people, not for their benefit but for ours. It allows us to move on rather than live in the shadow of unresolved issues. It is also what our faith, our God, tells us it is the right thing to do. Who was it that said, He who cannot forgive burns the bridge that he must one day cross?