If you have a less than perfect relationship with your mother, Mother’s Day is always a bit awkward. Hallmark doesn’t make a card that reads, “I’m so glad I don’t live with you anymore” or “Thanks for only calling me when you need something.” So, we buy the cards that represent the feeling we think we ought to have for our mother. Then we deliver the card and/or present in a state of extreme hypocrisy and anger. In my case, I put fresh flowers on her headstone and spend the day steeped in regret for spending so many years in anger. You can maintain the status quo, or you can choose to just let it go. You can forgive your Mom for all the ways she failed you, or forgive yourself for all the ways you have failed your children, and you can use Mother’s Day as a clean slate.
Try something different this year. Instead of putting time and energy into maintaining a fiction, seek out the truth. Sit down with your journal and start to write down all the ways your mom wasn’t the mom you wanted. After each entry, say, “I forgive you, and I send you love.” If you find this near impossible, because you’re filled to the rim with resentment, forgive yourself first. Then go do something really nice for yourself. My favorites are: a massage, a walk on the beach, a sappy movie all by myself, or sitting in my favorite chair listening to music and writing in my journal. After you’ve shown yourself some high-quality love, then try the forgiveness list again. Self-care and forgiveness allow you to build something new and joyful on the ashes of regret and resentment. It’s kind of like growing flowers from horse poo!
When you can get a little distance from your old stories, you can see the truth: they don’t help. Let the righteous indignation fade—it doesn’t make you a better person, and it certainly doesn’t make you a better parent. Plug into wherever you are right now; no matter how messy that may be. Open your heart and forgive yourself and your parents for all the perceived slights and shortcomings. Forgive and focus on love. We only have our kids in our lives for a short time, and we only have one set of parents. Accept things as they are and be grateful for this one precious life.
That’s what I feel this Mother’s Day: bottomless gratitude. I’m grateful for my Mom, because I got a lesson in what unbridled optimism can accomplish. I’m grateful for my father’s Celtic poetic soul that I carry on to the next generation. I’m grateful for my four girls who delight and ignite me daily. I’m grateful for my husband who guides us with his quiet comfort and wicked sense of humor. I’m grateful for my Pride of strong, wacky women who believe in me and the Girl Power mission. I know when I’m mired in self-doubt or reeling from rejection, they will be there to help me up, dust me off, and give me a kick in the pants to get back out there. I’m grateful for my health and my gift of the gab. I’m grateful for the anxiety that makes me want to hurl before every appearance; the nerves remind me that this mission means something. I’m grateful that I found my calling while I was still young enough to spread the message far and wide. But most of all, I’m grateful for my Mom. Without her, I wouldn’t be here. And I wouldn’t have the desire to make the world a better place. Because she did whatever the hell she wanted to do, I saw the possibility of a big life with a big mission. Happy Mother’s Day, Rae!