The things not posted

my momIt was Mother’s Day last weekend. I stayed off social media on purpose. Mother’s Day has always been a complicated day for me, for as long as I remember.

There are many who have close, supportive and loving relationships with their moms. I’m not one of them.

Non-gushy greeting cards

While my mom was alive, my relationship with her was confusing, complicated and unpredictable. Mother’s Day was an exercise in choosing a card that wasn’t gushy. I avoided anything that said, “Best.” If you haven’t shopped for a non-gushy Mother’s Day card, you’ve missed a challenge. It’s like looking for a Valentine’s card without a heart.

Now that she’s passed on, I don’t have to shop for a card anymore. The rest of my life will be motherless. But my relationship with her hasn’t ended. The resurrection of our relationship happened in forgiveness.

In being a mother myself, I see the impossibility of it. I have the good fortune to be sane. I don’t grapple with mental illness as she did and I still have days where I’m not the patient, loving mom I want to be. In raising my own son and writing my memoir, I understand what she faced and why she failed in the ways she did.

But how would I post that on Facebook? “Here’s a photo of my mom and I have mixed feelings about her.”

Not fitting the idealized picture

Mother’s Day is a hard day for those who have lost their mothers. You might feel like staying in bed and letting the day pass you by. If you are in this group, you’re not alone. It’s OK to feel sad, despite all the wishes of Happy Mother’s Day! Break the rules. If feeling sad because you miss her feels like the right thing to do, then I wish you a Sad Mother’s Day! You’re sad because you loved her.

There is the celebration of children on Mother’s Day. “Look at the flowers my son gave me! Here’s the glittery card they made at school! I was treated to breakfast in bed of Eggs Benedict!” I have the good fortune to have a healthy son right now but I’m aware that it’s not always the case. What about those who have children who are different? Children with developmental issues or health problems, children who will never understand the concept of Mother’s Day, let alone organize making a breakfast for it. Did you see any posts from mothers who wrote, “My son doesn’t make eye contact with me but I love him anyway and I’m doing the best I can to be a good mother.”

I don’t see the painful posts from the women who wanted to become mothers but didn’t. The words of, “I wanted to be a mother but miscarriages/finances/sterility/relationship issues/life got in the way so I’ll never know motherhood.”

What we see on Facebook can make others’ lives seem smooth and happy. If your own life seems grittier, harder and not as happy, consider the possibility of the things not posted.

6 thoughts on “The things not posted

  1. We share a mother and “confusing, complicated and unpredictable” are wonderful adjectives to describe her. I never sent her a card after I became a mother. I decided the holiday belonged to me. You are incredibly courageous to write about your life. You are helping so many with your words. You are helping me.

    1. Thank you for adding your voice to this conversation! I appreciate you taking the time to support my efforts to sort out my feelings about her. She was both powerful and weak, and we hear her echo in our lives even now.

  2. Thank you for writing this….I had a different relationship with my mom. She did the best she knew how but at the later stages of her life I was the mother and she was the child. I envy a good friend of mine who just lost her mother on Easter morning, her mom was a special and caring person and they had a great relationship. I never had the experience of being a mother and so hoped when I was younger that I would have children but life didn’t work out that way. Mother’s Day has been a very sad day for me….missing my mother and not being a mother!!!

  3. Gen, well written! You and I have had many talks about this and you know I too have many of the same issues. You are a wonderful mother and wife and are an inspiration to so many! Happy belated Mother’s Day to you! Hugs!

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