I seriously hate mother’s day.
I know… I write that every year…
About how it’s a backwards holiday that rewards most those who already have the most help in their task to make their duties easier while pretty much insulting those who have the hardest path and walk it alone.
And I’ve written about the one year that I got a gift… a teenaged sized set of mickey mouse jewelry including a bracelet that would fit around three of my fat adult fingers, a set of earrings when I don’t have pierced ears, and a necklace that even had it been possible to wear size-wise it was still made of a metal that I’ve always been allergic to…. purchased by my mother, who had to have known that it was only going to create heartache to a preschooler to never be able to see her gift in use and know that I’d have no way to make it better.
And it always sounds so trivial and petty and selfish when I write about it… and I’m sure it always has a whining tone.
But it’s not even about gifts… as much as about the lack of any acknowledgement… of even any notice.
And it’s not even so much about the day… as much as the fact that it pulls all sorts of other similar past hurts back up to the surface… things normally already dealt with and diffused… and/or written off as not worth being upset over.
They all take the opportunity to join together into one big pus filled blister… collectively whispering “you don’t matter. you aren’t good enough. you don’t deserve to be cared about”… in a small voice that’s easy enough to silence as an individual incident, but becomes deafening when they all join together into a loud chorus.
It’s the mother’s day dinners that always treat my mom special, but never so much as even note that I’m a mother too… that whisper that I’m not good enough to count.
It’s the mother’s day messages at church… focusing on how men need to step up and care for their wives with more appreciation for all they do… the men being asked to pray blessings over their spouses… that tell my heart that I don’t get to have help or appreciation or blessings because I screwed up and let myself be conned by the wrong guy instead of getting knocked up by one who would step up and be a father.
It’s the hurt of being pressured into getting a father’s day gift for my stepdad, who has never been a father figure, and has at times actually deliberately made things harder for me… including the time that I’d had to drop out of school because he wouldn’t even allow my school a copy of the front page of their tax return so that I could get loans.
The voice whispers that even such a jerk deserves a card and gift… but you don’t.
It’s seeing my mom get a father’s day card for my brother on behalf of his dog….
that whispers that he deserves more for how he cares for his dog than you do for the effort that you go to for your child.
It’s a million messages in my email and on facebook posts and on tv… showing me what nice things good mothers get… telling me that I must not deserve to be treated special like these women. They deserve jewelry with or without their children’s names and birthstones, meals at expensive restaurants, flowers, breakfast made for them…. and any other number of things. I don’t.
It’s the sister-in-law showing off her mother’s ring that matches the one they got my mom that christmas… and her comment to me that with only having one child I don’t need one… that the voices don’t even have to embellish, but just repeat.
It’s every time my never-good-enough-for her mother has criticized my every decision as a parent…. all the way from infant to recent battles…. that clearly chime in echoing her sentiments that I’m completely worthless because I don’t do things the way she feels they need to be done and can never manage to be perfect supermom like must have just completely blocked out that she was to us.
And of course… once there is a pity party going… it’s an open invitation for offenses to show their heads. So the choir expands to include so much more than parenting related things.
And so it’s the 60″ tv given as a gift to my brother (to replace his current 55” one that’s a few years old) for helping my mom paint the house… a project involving about 2 days of painting and 1 day of moving stuff. That brings out a jealous voice that looks at my small tv that’s older than my middle schooler and can’t be lifted… and proceeds to point out the literally years worth of running errands for my mom even while I was working 70 hours a week but she had all day at home… of helping her after surgery… of doing all of the shopping and most of the time paying for it all.. of literally cooking dinner every night for several years… of helping her after the divorce… of sometimes giving her $40 to make ends meet when that was literally all that I had to my name while both of my brothers have households with two full time incomes and with all 4 of those making more per hour than I did to boot…And with one set not even having kids to support.
That voice that all but screams “all of your efforts and sacrifices don’t mean anything at all, you owe service as a lowly worker ant, but his three weekend days are worth extreme value.”
And earlier with his birthday gift of an ipad… and $150 birthday dinner… said to be deserved for his help with the lawn work… again pointing out that my efforts of help are worthless and expected while his are treasured.
It’s the fact that I didn’t get a birthday gift or dinner at all let alone in comparison.. or even a card.. from my family anytime in the past few years. That tells me I don’t even matter to my family. Even people I don’t know that well sometimes send cards not to mention friends, but my family doesn’t even think as much of me as being as deserving as a random person from church who can barely even remember my name most of the time who got my info from the church directory.
It’s the years and years that my daughter and I made birthday cakes for literally every person in our family… many times even extending to my grandmas, and sometimes even as far as my stepdad’s parents…. and to not have anyone ever willing to help my kiddo make one for me…. that whispers to me that my care for my family is unrequited.
It’s the effort I went to working in the garden the year before growing cucumbers in spite of battles with pests and drought… and hunting down and purchasing supplies for them to be turned into candy pickles by my mom for christmas for the family… and gathering all of the other supplies for her to make kitchen product gift baskets for christmas…. and to not even get a single pickle for me when I was the one who had initially wanted them and had gone to all of the effort… whispering that I don’t even count.
It’s my mom going far out of her way for the baby of a friend of the family, who has two full time incomes to support it… so much more than she did for even my brother’s kids, let alone mine. It’s her comments about how essential it is to have things that my kiddo went completely without because I could barely even manage diapers.
It’s added in with the more recent and completely unneeded things she does get for my daughter… that tells me that I’m not worth helping with things that I desperately needed help with, but even non-related friends in less need are.
But that my daughter’s every minor whim is worth being treated as a serious need, even if it’s just for expensive candy and drinks from the gas station.
It’s a million past comments… some made in serious criticism and some made in jest…
It’s the fact that every one of the hurts by itself is easily written off as being either petty or pure jealousy. “Seriously? You’re upset about pickles?”
It’s that any mention of them would be turned around to make me feel like I’m just ungrateful and whining over trivial things, then turned further to be a conversation about all of my faults and failures, real and perceived.
It’s that I know it’s their emotions to feel as they want to, their money to spend as they like, and my choice to give with no expectation of return so it’s not my place to be able to complain when others are rewarded for their giving.
It tells me that my feelings are trivial, petty, unjustified, and don’t matter at all. That I’m wrong for even feeling hurt.
And when it all comes together.. it’s the voice from deep in my heart… reminding me that my own family thinks I’m a worthless loser… and if even they don’t feel like I’m worth any sort of even token level of appreciation or acknowledgement, then they’re probably right.
And from deeper still… the voice that points out that I’m wasting my time and efforts, and setting up my heart to be hurt… for people who don’t even care that I do.
And that I probably need to look at pulling back, setting stronger boundaries, and focusing my attention towards places that do actually bear fruit. To better guard the tender places of my heart, and adjust my involvement to more appropriately match the tone of the relationship.
And what hurts most… is knowing that voice is probably right… but knowing that it’ll probably change nothing.
And that’s what makes me hate mother’s day…. so much more than just brushing off a perceived slight. It’s because it turns an inch into a mile… and I’m caught in a funk of fighting off anew every small hurt that builds into the ache.
Wake me up sometime next week… I want to go throw a pity party and just sleep it off.