I recently had an email from Tesco asking if I wanted to opt out of Mother’s Day marketing. I get why Tesco are asking this. And not just because it’s obvious but because up until a few years ago I would have happily opted out of Mother’s Day altogether. I’m lucky, because many people don’t have a mum at all. But I don’t fall into the ‘she’s the only mum you’ve got camp’. I don’t believe a parent can do what they want and you must forgive for fear that they will one day be gone. I reconciled with that notion long ago.
There’s no point poring over the details but in summary, my mum grew up with a lot of trauma and so wasn’t really ever able to be the kind of mum a kid deserves. She had good intentions but ultimately not ever knowing what love was meant she wasn’t ever able to give it. I understand that now. For so long I was full to the brim with anger and resentment and to some extent, self-loathing. I wondered what was wrong with me to make her the way she was. It’s taken a lot of introspection to see that actually I’m pretty great and despite years of not feeling enough, now I know I’m more than.
My mum and I had been up and down for years. There has been screaming, fighting and long periods of not talking. Were it not for my children I can’t say for sure we would have a relationship. But my kids adore her and for all the things she did to me, she’s a good Grandma. So I had to make amends with things for that not to eat me up.
We went to therapy. And I wrote her a long long letter full of all the things I had ever felt. She has never once mentioned what was in that letter and so I don’t even know if she has read it, but getting it out, making it clear in my own head was one of the most cathartic things I’ve ever done. Through that and through the therapy I have learnt to accept and understand that she will always be the way she is. She will never love me in the way that I craved but the craving has gone. And for her part, she has really tried to, and succeeded, in being better.
I know I’m not the only one who avoids the ‘best mum’ cards and so all I can say is to find that feeling in all the other amazing people in your life. My sister, my best friends, my step-mum they are all full of warmth and love. They look after me and feed me and tell me not to be a dick! And they show me through their own families how beautiful motherhood can look. And my mum, in her own way, she does love me, and the biggest acceptance of all, the strength that I’ve gained from all of the above, is being able to say that I do love her too, and not be scared that that somehow makes me weak.
So yes, I understand some of the sadness that can come with Mother’s Day. It will come round this year and I may bristle at the awkwardness of it. But now, well now I have my boys. And I get to celebrate Mother’s Day in all of its beauty and with all of its love.
My heart is so overwhelmed with what they have given me that whilst I’d happily opt out of any and all marketing emails, I absolutely want to opt in to Mother’s Day.