I hate Mother’s Day. There, I said it.
It’s a combination of the overwhelming anxiety, guilt and obligation that comes with needing to visit my own Mother, who is very ill and can’t make use of the token chocolates, bubble baths and flowers the shops offer, and the deeply-embedded guilt I feel at receiving any form of card or gift.
I never actually considered Mother’s Day as being a day for me. My first Mother’s Day rolled around only a month after giving birth to Sprog, and I spent the week leading up to it trying to work out how I could stretch my shoestring budget to cover formula, nappies and something nice for my Mum, who I was living with at the time. I didn’t expect my colicky newborn to produce a glitter-strewn card, nor did I think anyone else would. I was almost right.
Nobody acknowledged my first Mother’s Day as a mother, except my father – who bought me a beautiful gold necklace which reads “Mum”. I cried. I couldn’t believe that he’d bothered to go out of his way to get me something so thoughtful. I felt grateful, but also really guilty. Like my being a Mum on Mother’s Day was a hinderance of some kind.
I don’t do well at receiving gifts on birthdays or at Christmas, either. Always the overwhelming thanks, and then guilt. It seems to be some sort of in-built mechanism where I don’t feel deserving of nice gifts – but generally it doesn’t bother me – I usually just tell people I “don’t want a fuss”.
In the past couple of years Mother’s Day has gotten more painful. My own Mum has gotten more ill. It’s hard to see her bedbound and cared for. It’s even harder when bitter family members throw abuse in my direction every time I try to visit. Mostly, I avoid visiting wherever I can, so as not to upset anybody or be confronted. Of course, this strategy only adds to the guilt.
Then there’s Sprog. Sprog will make me a Mother’s Day card at school, like every other child in her class. She will bring it home and present it to me and I will gush over her handiwork. She will then ask me at least 72 times per hour if I really really like it. I will feel as though I didn’t properly express thanks, and feel bad. When she goes to bed I will cry silently into some wine that I am a terrible mother – a judgement I have based upon silly little things like not packing only organic snacks in her lunch, as well as huge out of my control things like the fact she was abused by X – and then I will go to bed and feel extremely relieved that the whole ordeal is over. Until next year.
I really just don’t do well on Mother’s Day.