The author of the manuscript I’m currently editing has very conflicted feelings about her mom, and for good reason: the memoir describes a family dynamic scarred by alcohol, prostitution, meth addiction, and abuse of all kinds. Given how difficult the story has been to read, I can’t imagine how difficult it was for her to experience. But stories like hers can certainly provide some perspective, if you’re inclined to have any mixed feelings each year as Mother’s Day rolls around.*
Because of my good fortune in having been raised in a home full of love, my feelings about my own mother are not complicated at all: I love her fiercely. I admire her, I am endlessly grateful to her, I enjoy her. I know how lucky that makes me. If you know my mom, you know what I mean.
If you live in one of the 97 countries (from Anguilla to Zimbabwe) celebrating Mother’s Day tomorrow, I hope it’s a good day for you and your mom. As I learn more about how memory works, I recognize that we are not always, or even often, very reliable witnesses of our own lives. If we try to think of “happy memories with Mom,” and we aren’t immediately able to make a list a yard long, it doesn’t mean those memories aren’t in there. If we wait a bit, perhaps over a period of time, things will come to mind.
If you have complicated feelings about yourself as a mother, I profoundly hope that you find some peace over that, too. If your culture prioritizes the role of mother over other roles women can have, that choice can seem like an important form of support. But it can also create challenges for women, regardless of their life experience. As with so many things in life, it’s complicated.
Here’s a video designed to honor the mothering that women do.
If you’re able to call your mom on Mother’s Day, I invite you to spend even a few minutes beforehand thinking about a memory to share. It’s the thinking that counts.
*Of course, just when Mother’s Day rolls around depends on where you live. As I mentioned last week (don’t miss the photos!), the first Sunday in May is our celebration in Spain. Loads of countries have designated the second Sunday in May. March is the second most popular month for the holiday, and other Mother’s Days are scattered throughout the year. Norway is the only country celebrating in February, and Armenia has April all to itself. Luxembourg and Mongolia take June, South Sudan has July. Thailand, Costa Rica and Antwerp mark the day in August, and Belarus, Malawi and Argentina choose October. Russia, North Korea and East Timor make much of their moms in November; Panama and Indonesia celebrate in December. Read more about it here.
[Images are from the family archives. I don’t actually know who held the camera for any of the photos.]