A huge Happy Mother’s Day (a day late, I know) to every mother out there, whether you’re a mother from giving birth (women are the original 3D printers, you know), a stepmother of a child of any age, a mother who has lost children, those with mothers who have already crossed the bridge between this life and the next, mothers-to-be awaiting the special day they get to meet their little ones…
The list goes on. Motherhood is no longer a simply stated role, it is many. Therefore, there are now several ways people can celebrate Mother’s Day, one not more right or “correct” than the next.
This Mother’s Day was a little bittersweet for myself, and I humbly say thank you to allowing me to have a little venting time on this blog. I know it goes all over the place, but so does my writing. Plus, this blog is a personal one as well as one that represents my life as a writer.
As I said, bittersweet, tart would probably be the better adjective, like grapefruit that I’m trying to spoon the pulp from but instead get a squirt of its sour juice in my eye. Like yes, a pretty pink, a flavorful color I hope to enjoy, but instead I want to throw it away and say “forget it.” Today, a Monday, I have been asked several times already “How was your Mother’s Day?”
To this, I replied each time with a strain pulling my chest, “Oh? It was just another day. I’m not exactly a mom.”
Confused questions came next: “What? But you’re a step mom.” “Don’t stepmothers get celebrated?” “Didn’t your husband get you a card?” “Didn’t the boys do anything?”
I kept my smile plastered uneasily as I stand and feel pitifully empty, reminded that I haven’t had a baby yet and probably won’t for another few years, by choice and circumstances, too, though my hormonal biology seems to keep pressuring my mind with a motherly longing I can’t seem to wave off. It’s entirely unfair to put any blame on John or his sons, who are teenagers that don’t generally show affection or are embarrassed by hugs and kisses. We had to remind them to call their own mother, who is away out of town, and they had already gifted with cards before she left, so they felt their job was already done. Kids aren’t naturally attune to wanting to give so much unless prompted and taught by the other parent, a hard task when they come from divorced parents, too, so let me plainly state that in no way do I hold any grudge against the kids. They are kids being kids, young men who have caring hearts, and I am proud of their character.
I don’t hold anything against John, either. Trust me, he felt a lot of guilt at the end of the day, after taking me for a few too many drinks at the pub which resulted in instantaneous tears when he prodded me again on the way home, “Are you sure nothing’s wrong? I know you’ve been sick with allergies but you’ve been acting really sad today. What is it?”
John and I know each other too well, sometimes. We can always see through the other’s weak defensive shields we try to hold up. I felt utterly lonely all day yesterday, despite having my stepsons with us and my husband home, too. I shouldn’t have felt so glum, but I did, though I had reason to (I have to check myself whether my sadness is because of an actual problem or if my depression is trumping over my medicine, which is a problem) I still wish I had an emotional switch to simply flick everything off when they become too much. I felt too tired and depressed to hold the guise anymore, so I let it slip as powerful tears welled up in my eyes and slicked down my cheeks as I replied in a shaky voice, “It just sucks to be a stepmother on Mother’s Day.”
I hate when I cry, I mean, I really hate when I cry, especially in public. You know how Hollywood starlets can shed pretty tears that sparkle while keeping their eye makeup perfect and their pouty lips tremble in an adorable manner? No, I am the opposite entirely; my face flushes red, not pink but strawberry red, and my mouth tends to drool as my eyes are engorged in salty tears. So there we are, sitting in the Sonic Drive Thru parking lot, waiting for two twisted pretzel sticks, and I’m blubbering over a day that shouldn’t be aching my heart as it was. I felt ridiculous and pitiful, so sorry for myself over nothing, but at least John, being the wonderful man I fell in love with, was understanding and empathetic, acknowledging, “Oh god, babe, I’m so sorry. I should have gotten you a card at least. You know you’re such a good rolemodel for the boys and they love you. I’m sorry!”
He hugged me tight and tucked me under his chin, assuring me that next year he’ll be more thoughtful and won’t let me feel so left out.
Facebook became a nightmare to scroll through: two pregnancy announcements with beautifully done photos of cute onesies, husbands and wives posing with blessed smiles, hands on soon-to-be-rounding tummies, and plenty of friends and acquaintances either still pregnant and celebrating their first Mother’s Day or celebrating with all two or three of their little ones for their sixth or seventh Mother’s Day. Happy families all gathered together, grinning, photographs bright with love.
It’s beautiful and I don’t begrudge anyone a thing. It’s a happy day and I felt ridiculous for letting myself become forlorn. One couple announcing their pregnancy, for instance, were told they wouldn’t have children, so this announcement was huge and when I found out the wife was positively pregnant, I jumped up and screamed it at John! It’s an amazing feeling to be close to a new budding life, to see the glowing effect shining from the couple.
I also am very aware of those without their mothers, too. I kick myself because I should at least be happy to have my own mother, though she’s in Oklahoma and all I can do from afar is send a card and call her (which I did). I have friends whose mother passed years before and I know the day could not have been an easy one for them, either. I guess my day could have been a smidge better if I could have seen my mom. It’s one of those laughable times I realize that I am in my late twenties but feel the need to curl up and cry, “I want my mother! Right now!”
Please don’t misread me; I do not post this for personal pity to gather up. However, I do believe the different types of mothers aren’t discussed or recognized, despite how wide the spectrum has been stretched within recent years. It all comes down to the social understanding on what makes a person a mother and is deserving of having a day to be thanked for it. I remind myself that the children don’t live with us and they were told before me and their father married that I was in no way replacing their mom since she was still very much in their lives. I was to be seen as a guardian-type figure who still needed respect but they could talk to and have fun with as well.
I have had my share of days where I’ve sat each of them in time out at the table (any punishment above that is their father’s responsibility) but I’ve also had good days where we are out having fun at a town fair, walked at the zoo, dragged ourselves through clothes shopping (not a highlight for any child who hates trying on new clothes, btw) and walked at the hiking trail at the park. I know they both are peculiar with their desserts; they don’t like chocolate but Reese’s peanut butter cups are the younger one’s favorite. The older will say he’s allergic to peanuts though he really just doesn’t like them. They used to be into Doctor Who and loved David Tennant the most (though they differed sometimes whether Matt Smith was best). The older one is very skilled and talented at computer designs and wants to go to a technology school for such a degree while the younger is immensely intelligent and very well could go to be an engineer. The younger loves animals while the older is a bit shy towards them because he’s wary about getting bit or clawed. They both loved scary movies growing up (the older was terrified of Freddy Kreuger though) and Halloween was a bonding holiday between them and their dad. They seem to enjoy that me and their dad will go all out with decorating and dressing up; it’s a family tradition to decorate our place together.
I do my best to remind them that I love them. Sometimes they’ll say it back, sometimes (especially the younger one) they shyly smile and hurry on with something they need to do right then. I tell them that they are perfect and when they say people tell them they’re too skinny (they are rather bony children despite all the candy they can put away) I remind them that it isn’t a person’s body or appearance that make them good or bad, it’s what is in their hearts and how they treat others that defines them. When the younger said he felt he was getting fat (oh, please), I pinched the fat of my arm and asked, “What is this?”
“Fat,” he said, voice lowered, knowing some type of lecture was coming.
“That’s right. I have fat, some would say probably too much, but that doesn’t define my heart or what I say or do. I have other things, too; pimples, cellulite, and lines under my eyes, but none of these are flaws. They’re biological occurrences; they happen all of the time and to everyone. So what?”
I’m unsure if this lesson has sunken in yet but I am never one to not repeat it if necessary. I want them to grow up understanding a healthy standard of self-worth that isn’t limited to how their bodies look. Should I ever have a daughter, I am ready to never say she’s too big or too skinny; they should never feel like a mistake always needing to be fixed.
I don’t need physical things to prove I’m a good mom-type. John tells me I’m a great role model for the boys and he’s thanked me many times in the past for being not just in his life but theirs, too. I know someday things will be different and I’ll have a Mother’s Day that feels more like mine, but until then, I’ll take the day with a pinch of salt, though hopefully I will be happy enough with any moment of feeling like a mom to anyone. It’s already so much more than what others receive.
Still, remember to acknowledge the motherly types in your life; I have been raised not only by my mom but my granny, great-aunt, aunt, and other women who watched me grow up that I may not see or speak to anymore but have many fond memories of them watching over me and raising me to understand the importance of not just having one mother but several women who taught me love and compassion.
Emotions and morals I hope to use myself in the near future for my own little one.
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