If Mother’s Day hurts

Beasley girlsI’ve looked, but I’ve never found a greeting card that says, “Mom, thanks for not killing me during one of your hallucinations.”

Complicated, striking, unforgettable: my mother. She suffered from schizophrenia and obesity, both conditions that made her a constant target for our society’s criticism. I was her shy, mortified child who trailed behind. With her loud breathing, she could have supplied the soundtrack to a horror film. She dressed in clothes that were too bright and shiny even for the 1970s. The volume of her voice dominated a room.

There was hell to pay if she didn’t receive a card for Mother’s Day. While she was alive, I browsed through hundreds of cards to seek the one I could honestly give. Most were sappy, and included sentiments like “Best Mom” and “Thankful I grew up to be like you”. I sought only the vague wishes that seemed truthful. Most years, I got something floral and noncommittal; “Thinking of you; happy Mother’s Day.”

I’ve been a mother myself for a decade and a half, but I don’t feel like I own the day. Mother’s Day belongs to my mother.

Gone for five years, she is still with me

I think of her most days. She would be so proud. She would delight in knowing that I spoke at the conference in Jeff City. She would put up this photo of my son with his state champion medal. She would love these artificially dyed fresh flowers in the grocery store.

Sunday is a day to celebrate motherhood for what it really is: snotty, competitive, clingy, exhausting, drippy, strengthening, messy, aggravating, holy and more fulfilling than anything else. All at the same time. It starts with babies who both smell like heaven and have a tendency to projectile vomit. It only gets more demanding from there. Motherhood isn’t neat enough to fit on a card.

You might miss the mom you had, or the mom you wish you had, or the mom you wish you could be, or the mom who remembered you before Alzheimer’s took her from you. Give yourself permission to make the day as comfortable as possible. You’ll reminisce. Indulge in what eases your mind. Do puzzles. Binge watch TV. Take a hot bath. Give extra smiles to everyone you see.

To the single moms out there whose kids won’t get it together to bring you breakfast in bed…

To the women who wanted to become mothers, but couldn’t…

To the stepmoms doing their best…

To the women who have lost a child…

To the ones who have lost their mothers…

To those of you who have a difficult relationship with your mom…

To all of you, I wish you an OK Mother’s Day.

If Mother’s Day hurts, remember you’re not alone.



Lord, bring your mercy and forgiveness
to our relationships.
Ease the ones who struggle.
Bless all of us, your children.

Tell me your thoughts!

How is Mother’s Day for you? Do you have plans? Do you have a favorite memory?

16 thoughts on “If Mother’s Day hurts

  1. One of Andrea’s favorite songs was “Honest Lullaby.” “I had a mother who sang to me an honest lullaby.” When the world seems scary to me, I try to remember that I was raised by a paranoid schizophrenic and that I am actually safe. Thank you for writing your truth, my beloved sister.

  2. All I can say is WOW!!! This touched me on a very personal level…I had a difficult relationship with both of my parents. Mother’s and Fathers Day card buying was always stressful for me. Somehow the words always felt disingenuous. Nothing conveyed my feelings quite the way that I felt them. Thanks for being so honest in your writing. I accept your prayer and God’s grace to continue to move me down the healing path.

  3. This post struck a cord with me, too. It’s hard to celebrate a mother who never behaved like a mother except when trying to convince the rest of the world that she was the perfect mother. Thanks for reminding me that there are many others out there like us. And big thanks for the prayer!

  4. Thank you so much for this beautiful, timely blog post and sharing your struggles with Mothers Day past and present. Thanks also for remembering my current sadness around this day with my mom’s Alzheimer’s. I was lucky to get a couple of smiles of recognition and connection during our visit yesterday, and I had my mom’s friends there as buffers, but I still felt the sadness, big time.

  5. Amazing post. So incredibly astute. I have a really great mom, and this post was still powerful. WOW. I always think the cards available are sorely lacking and usually go with simply stated ones.

  6. Thank You Genevieve for sharing. I was raised by my grandparents in the 1970’s and 80’s. Both of my parents were teenagers and ended up divorced. I was not able to spend very much time with either of them as they had other lives. I have always thought of myself as a mommy’s girl, I missed her ALWAYS. The times I did spend with her were always a mix of love and fun , and drama ass well, so they are bittersweet memories for me. I still cry if my mom does… What I have learned since becoming a mom myself is that if I’m the best mom I can be on a given day, then chances are that my mom was the best she could be on a given day, this allows forgiveness and understanding to happen for me. Thank You for the Prayer and I send one in return. Hope you have an OK Mother’s Day… 🙂

  7. Your reaching out to all those hurting as they reflect on this day is a kindness and a true ministry. Years ago I saw the movie “Ordinary People.” I was a young mom completely in love with my adorable, baby boy, but I longed for a mother myself who was more engaged, more loving. There is a scene in the film where the therapist asks the troubled teen if he was asking more of his mother than she could give. That line struck me powerfully!
    Wanting something not possible is understandable, especially a mother’s love, but also futile. Moving from a sense of loss to a place of understanding, compassion and acceptance is a healthy goal and a liberating one. My happiness is not tied up in another’s dysfunctional relationship with me.
    There are still many levels of acceptable “friendship” with those who are incapable of loving us. However, there is also a point for many, where it is not only “OK,” it is the healthy choice to separate for one’s own regard and for that of her or his children. If a relationship with another adult is not life giving one need not endure it.
    So dear children of all ages, focus on those who love you this mother’s day: your children, spouses, dear friends, grandchildren, and have a beautiful day! Or simply love yourself and indulge in your life’s delights! And send your poor mother, who is likely suffering from her inability to love, a generic card “simply stated.” And above all know that our divine Mother/Father is supporting and loving you and delighting in you!

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