This is my first time sharing this here, although I usually share it annually on my other blog. I will warn you that it may be triggering for some.
originally written May 11, 2004
On Motherhood: Sometimes a Lie is the Best Thing
This is a simple truth: the only way onto this planet (sans spacecraft) is via a mother. Sure, modern science has blurred a few lines about who exactly a mother is, although surrogacy has been around since biblical times. But even with test tubes and Petri dishes, it all boils down to the same thing. The largest cell joins the smallest cell, and creation takes place.
So a mother could be considered a vessel, a ship. A storage space that leads you to a passageway – a point of entrance into this world. Thus a connection/bond like no other is formed. We lived inside of this being. We were literally nurtured by her body. Fed by what she took in, good or bad. Her body offered shelter and protection. And then when certain conditions came together, we emerged, and were literally cut from that which created us. And that is why we cry.
No matter what happened after that, we still share that connection. We will have it with no one else. It is a one-time deal. No one comes into this world alone. There will only ever be one person who got us here. Like it or not, those are the facts.
Today I read an entry about the kinds of mothers that there are. The author mentioned mothers no longer with us, those with children who are no longer of this earth, mothers who no longer have custody of their children (because of court orders, adoption, or otherwise), and mothers who are estranged from their offspring, or at least in complicated relationships. I would like to add to that list mothers who felt that the best decision for them both was to not take things to term. They are all mothers, and should be honored on this day.
Today being that day brought to us by Hallmark*, and sponsored by 1-800-flowers.com, South Western Bell, and Avon, I, of course, thought about my own mother. Mother’s Day 1999 was the last time I sent her a card. Had I known then that it would be the last, I’m still not sure what I would have said. I know on some deep level that she loved me, and that she knew I loved her. That my leaving was the best thing for me, and in some ways her, too. That she never wanted me to take on the role of mother to her, and yet it happened.
What haunts me still is something I found among her things. A note about how she wished she had sent me (in addition to my sister) back to live with our paternal grandmother. Also that she had never had the abortion that she did. The one that I am still not sure if she knew I knew about. [I was about 10.] These were her two greatest regrets.
The irony of that is not lost on me. She didn’t want to deal with the children she did have, but yet regretted not bringing another into this world. Okay, I suppose it was more that she was not pregnant to begin with. And yes, I realize that she was quite sick when she wrote this. That her brain was literally rotting away. That she didn’t mean it.
But still it hurts. I can’t tell you that it doesn’t or that it shouldn’t. I just wish it didn’t.
This is the first m-day since then that I ventured out. To observe the world as it celebrated. I watched as a son helped his mother into Starbucks so that she could use the gift card that someone had given her on Mother’s Day. She had one of those new fangled walkers.
Meanwhile, at the table next to me, I listened, as the mother of three was chided by her teenage daughter for almost sitting in her space. Each had several shopping bags. I’d almost bet that none of it was for mom.
Across from me sat a woman on her cell phone. Alone. She kept looking over at me. I think we were both trying to figure out why we didn’t have a mom or children with us. I think she was gay; I think she thought I might have been.
I watched a son with his little boy and his grandma played outside. The grandmother seemed thrilled to get this opportunity to play with her son’s son. She was all dressed up. The little boy was beaming at all the attention being showered upon him.
I sat sipping my iced tea and observed. I wanted to tell them, warn them really, that life is short. To cherish these moments as they could be the last. But I know that no one listens. I didn’t. Why would I expect anyone else to hear the simple truth?
Eventually I couldn’t take any more. I could feel the tears welling in my eyes. So I headed back home to hide, wishing this day would be over. That the flowers and cards and displays would just go away. Some days are just too hard to celebrate.
There are some days that I wish I
could put your hand in mine and I
could let you feel, truly feel, the
experience of this loss. This grief, that
I am told will dissipate over time but
will never, ever go away
A single thought, and it all comes flooding back
remembering that that was when I last used a pay phone, for example
or even the taste of a particular cookie
the smell of someone wearing a particular perfume
*I have since learned that Mother's Day was not the creation of the evil geniuses at Hallmark. It was created by Anna Jarvis of West Virginia in 1907. She started the tradition of wearing carnations: pink if your mother is alive; white is your mother is deceased.