11 May 2014

Why I Hate Mother's Day

Often God's mercy feels more like a swift kick to my  backside than the "There, there, little one!" pat on the head that I would prefer. So it is this morning as I skipped church on a day I was physically able to attend, opting instead to stay home and feel sorry for myself, that I once again feel a Jehovah sized boot print on the place with the least amount of padding; my ego.  I am a slow learner. We go through this every year at this time. Is it any wonder that I hate Mother's Day?

I don't hate Mother's Day for any of the legitimate reason to despise made up holidays. It doesn't bother me a bit that Hallmark is making a killing on cards or that florists everywhere are being delivered high voltage shocks on their last nerve trying trying to get out orders. Trust me, I was a florist once upon a time. Valentines Day and Mother's Day test the soul of every florist. I hate Mother's Day for much deeper reasons.

When I was a kid I hated Mother's Day because when I was about three years old my mother left me.  I hated Mother's Day because of the things that kids in school made for their moms and I didn't have a mom at home to give them to. I was living with a grandmother who probably made a better grandmother to my siblings than a primary caregiver to me.

I was in second grade when my father married my step-mom, a woman who happened to be my mother's sister. I loved my aunt/mom.  When my father insisted I call her "Mom" I rebelled in every way I could, while still calling her Mom.  That consisted of perpetuating my disdain for Mother's Day.  You see, I idolized my mother. I thought if I was good enough she'd come back for me and how on earth would I appeal to a woman while bestowing gifts and love to her sister for being a great mom? I wasn't exactly consistent, my step-mom/aunt was very good to me. I started calling her "Mom" because that's what she was. She wasn't perfect but she did go to bat for me on more than one occasion and that meant the world to me.

When I graduated high school, I went to live with my Mom. I wanted to be a part of her life. I wanted to belong to her. Then Mother's Day left me with new reasons to dislike it.  How do I call two women "Mom" and give two women gifts and adoration without making one of them feel slighted?  I couldn't work it out and so for a few years my mother got first priority. I felt bad no matter what I did.

My mom died nearly twenty years before my step-mom aunt would pass away. As I mourned her it really felt wrong to call my step-mom aunt "Mom" so she became "Auntie" thereafter.  I  even had the audacity to drop Auntie from her title and call her by her first name.  What a shameful thing to do. I regret it. It's like I demoted her from "Mom" to "Hey you" and didn't even recognize that it might hurt her feelings tremendously.

When my sister died, I ended up raising two of her five children. It was a complicated situation. I remembered what it was like to grow up separated from my siblings.  I remembered what it was like to miss my mother desperately. I remembered what it was like to feel as though I did not belong.  I set about to love these two girls as if they were mine.  I never wanted to force them to call me "Mom" and I never wanted them to forget their mother.  That does't mean I didn't long to hear them call me "Mom" or think of me as their mother. Neither of which ever happened.  I love them with all my heart and would gladly exchange my life for theirs....or that's what I tell myself.

The truth is having the girls come to live with me exposed every character flaw I have.  I am selfish, self-focused, impatient, unkind, abrasive and pretty awful as a parent.  All that and I have the temerity to feel sorry for myself because my kids seldom, if ever, acknowledge me for Mother's Day.  I freakin' hate it.  I hate to be wished "Happy Mother's Day!" I hate to be ignored, I hate that I don't have children I birthed myself to love and to love me back.  I just don't see anything redemptive about this day.   Each year I cannot wait for it to be over. I feel so abused and unappreciated and then God reminds me about what a jerk I was... and am... and I realize I have no reason to complain. But wait, that's not all....

A couple of days ago I stumble across this video and it enumerates every mistake I made as a parent. Yeah, God really poured the boots to me with this one. It made me realize again the depth of my need for admiration and attention. I am still all about me.  I hate Mother's Day because it demonstrates for me how selfish I am, it forces me to see myself pouting because of the lack of accolades and attention I think I deserve.

I shouldn't hate Mother's Day. I should hate my sin. Watch the video and learn. Take wisdom like this and plant it deep in your heart.

Phil 2:3-4
3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  ESV