Mother’s Day is about celebrating mothers’ love and central role in our lives. And about buying Mom presents, to make ourselves feel better (less guilty) for the debt we feel we owe her, or for all the other days we haven’t been there, or just to show some extra appreciation for all she’s done for us, or… out of sheer societal obligation.
Little attention is given on Mother’s Day to people who don’t like their mother. It’s a bit of a taboo, almost a sin, to admit to it. Unless, of course, one is talking to one’s shrink or an advice columnist.
I blame it partly on the cult around Mother Mary.
I mean, Mom is just a human being, but is seen as holy. She’s also supposed to be self-sacrificing, wise, respectful of the child’s decisions even when they’re painful to her (look at Jesus and the Cross), protective but not too much.
In our time, she’s expected to make “something” out of herself career-wise (at least in the so-called “Western” societies), while still being a “good parent.”
And Lord knows, being a “good parent” goes way beyond providing for a child’s basic needs, e.g. food, shelter and access to education. It’s a tall order, to say the least.
Mom must also be a cheerleader, a therapist and a selfless being who is simultaneously able not to forget about her own needs and aspirations too much. Because if she does, she will likely project her frustrations on the innocent child.
I once met a guy with a brilliant, creative mind and high ambitions, but with a severe emotional and social impairment (he wouldn’t be the first one). He’d been stuck doing menial jobs he despised, and didn’t know how to get out of his rut. He blamed his inability to succeed on his mother.
He didn’t aspire to be “The Son of God.” He just wanted recognition for his talent.
Though I don’t know how much of his ordeal was also due to his own brain imbalances. Or perhaps some of it was hereditary? I don’t know the parents’ diagnoses, if any.
My friend described his mother as controlling, venomous and gossipy, and swore he wouldn’t cry when she died. He said he despised her, while pitying his father. He described his father as a weak man who’d go along with his wife to the detriment of his own parenting.
But my friend was replicating some of her behavior.
He was self-centered and judgmental of others. He looked down on anyone he felt wasn’t as smart as he was (including Mom), and was rude to waiters and other service people. The victim becomes the perpetrator.
Often we don’t realize that the people we are closest to are the ones we tend to hurt the most. Other people become collateral damage when the pieces blow up all around.
Perhaps his mother’s mother (or father) was mean to her too. Hence, the chain of abuse gets passed down to perpetuity. Are humans inherent abusers? Would we still be abusers without having suffered any abuse? Is that even possible in life?
Both my friend’s parents had been inept at dealing with his ADHD, and I think he never quite forgave them for that. As a child, his rage and frustration were such that he struck his father and ended up sent away to juvenile detention. I wonder if his parents ever forgave him for lashing out with violence (which is never justified).
It seems to me like a big, vicious cycle of misunderstandings and miscommunication.
My friend went through a depression and long periods of therapy. All the while, he was thinking of ways to get away from his family, as far as possible, so that he could finally succeed in life. But although he did move far away, his demons, of course, didn’t completely leave him.
Wherever you go, there you are.
I think that, deep inside, he’s still just a boy longing for his mother’s love. And his mother, perhaps, also for hers. Moving on from this takes more strength than almost anything else in life – recognizing and grieving the loss of what was never there, and learning to give love from scratch.