Over the next few days, your social media will be plagued with Mother’s Day posts. Some will be the kids posting and tagging their moms in some obnoxious public display of affection. More annoying are the kids who make a point to say that they’re mom isn’t on social media, but then go ahead and do some sort of thank you note anyway. This website has already touched on the annoyance of public mourning, and I think that annoyance can be spread to public thanking.
There will be a lot of thank you notes from mother’s to their children. Some will be done by the embarrassing Facebook mom, who tags all her children in the post and says some soccer mom bullshit about how they are her true gift and she couldn’t ask for anything more. Maybe another bottle of wine? Looking at you, freshman roommate’s mom.
There will be a lot of posts from new moms experiencing their first mother’s day. This platform gives them another opportunity to shove it down the universe’s throat that they are indeed mothers now, and their lives are more complete than yours, and that no matter how hard it is, nothing is better than their child in their arms. I give these ones some slack, because I’m assuming they’re still riding the first year high, the “honeymoon period.” Also, I’m happy for them. But also, shut the fuck up.
The posts that annoy me the most this weekend are the one’s where people take the occasion to post about their “second moms.” This happens a lot on Father’s Day, where people write about their mom’s, because they weren’t raised by their dads for whatever reason. I always battle sending them a private message saying that wherever their dad is, posting that message sure as hell won't bring him back.
Don’t mean to be so harsh, but I do. It’s all humble bragging, and on these “holidays,” I begin to question the use of the world humble.
I grew up without a mom. My dad raised my younger brother and me. She left just after he was born, and we’ve never heard from her again. Her choice affected all of our lives and sent us down a very specific, murky, and rarely traveled path.
She did not die, that would be too easy. At least pity us in a natural, grieving way.
“Everybody dies, it’s just too bad it had to happen to her when you were so young.” Would have been too easy. She had to make it even more complicated.
I grew up on a series of pre-determined looks, thoughts, and judgments. It is so rare that a mother leave her children, that when I’d tell people so, they would never know how to react.
“Oh, you poor thing…” followed by a tangible silence that could overflow a pool.
A lot of times, I could tell people would wondering what the hell was wrong with us that would prompt her to leave. I know my dad got a lot of side eyes from that reason.
“Was she mentally ill?” I had a friend’s mother ask once after one too many cocktails.
My dad never mentioned it, and as far as I know, she wasn’t. Again, that would be too easy.
A lot of times, I was judged for it. Something would happen to people when they found out. They knew it wasn’t our fault, but part of them couldn’t help but wonder. Part of them couldn’t fathom. They saw us as damaged, they saw us as not worth it. They knew a lot of these thoughts were wrong and that they were wrong for thinking them, but something primal about the situation confused them to their core. Growing up, my brother and I would refer to people or situations as “sticky.” Like, “it got real sticky,” or, “she’s sticky.”
We came up with the term “sticky” at a young age, but still use it to this day. “Sticky” refers to the look we noticed people get when they’ve stepped in, our touched something sticky, but haven’t yet figured out what it is. All they know is the consistency. “Sticky” wasn’t always a bad way to describe someone. My brother and I had a code with each other, a secret language. We could say that word a hundred different ways, each variation meaning something else.
“How could she?” She could, she did, and it was a long time ago.
We were left to reap the sins of the mother.
Going to birthday parties fascinated me. The majority of my knowledge of what a mother was came from TV. Seeing real, in the flesh mothers was something else. My favorite part was the drop off and the pick-ups. My dad knew this, and would always drop me off early and pick me up a little late. He was given the benefit of the doubt for the timing “errors” because, well, he was all alone.
When the parents came to get their kids, I loved to try to match the faces of the adults to the faces of the kids. Even at a young age, it’s amazing how much you can match parents with their children based purely on their facial makeup.
I’ve spent so many hours in the mirror, trying to see what parts of me are her. Yes, we have some pictures of her, but they aren’t on display. After a certain age, we stopped wanting to look at them anyway. How much more knowledge could I get from an image permanently seared onto my brain?
Teenage years and the female sleepover where an entirely new beast to tackle. Who am I kidding? Every single fucking thing I ever did came with a permanent “what if?”
Girls were weird around me, because everyone knew my business, even though I never talked about it. Some had great relationships with their moms, others had shitty or intense ones. Either way, they had one, and could not relate to me.
“Do you not talk about it because it’s too hard?”
No. How about I don’t talk about it because you end up asking dumb fucking questions, like “how did your dad teach you about your period?”
A big part of growing up was my dad trying to date, or not date. He faced the same challenges and judgments my brother and I faced, but with a more adult context to it. To so many women, he was either immediately damaged goods or a total asshole.
“How could he be an asshole if he’s the one raising the kids?” Guess that means he’s damaged goods, because people just have to lump each other into categories to better understand their own perceptions of the world.
I know dating was difficult for him. It was difficult for the women, too. My brother and I were angry children, so that didn’t help. Bringing women into our situation was very complicated, partly because we didn’t know how to behave around them. We had teachers and friend’s moms, but we didn’t know what it was like to eat breathe and sleep under the same roof.
On the rare occasions that I enjoyed the company of an adult woman, they would often pull back, assuming that I was desperately trying to fill the void of my mother.
Making friends continues to be hard, even though I’m past an age where it’s an excuse.
When planning my future, I am terrified by the idea of motherhood. It is something I literally know nothing about. But do I want to do it? Yes, I think so, for now.
For most of you, Mother’s Day is a once-a-year event where the sole focus of the day is your mom. Throughout the years, my father always made sure to keep us occupied on this day. A balancing act between denial and letting the awareness of it all crush us.
I’ve lived more Mother’s Days than anyone I know, and now I think I’m ready to be done.