Why I Cried on Mother’s Day

I cried on Mother’s Day this year, and you are allowed to laugh at me. Because I did, afterwards.

Many women have experienced miscarriage, infertility, death of a child, and other such tragic and justified reasons for crying on Mother’s Day, but this wasn’t my reason.

There are other women (like me at one time) who are childless by choice, and happy with their choice, and yet may feel pressure or disapproval or just plain awkwardness from friends and family when Mother’s Day rolls around. Also not my reason yesterday.

And other people who have unfavorable memories of their own mothers – or none at all – and don’t necessarily welcome a special day for therapeutic purposes. My memories of my own mother are an embarrassment of riches, so I can’t claim this reason either.

No, mine was much less significant, but I’d wager it’s not so uncommon. My reason was expectations, and by now, I can see this problem coming a month away from any big day. Besides Mother’s Day, I have cried on my birthday (and not because I felt old at the time), my wedding anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. And these are only the particular holidays on which I can actually remember a specific cry-fest.

This year, the first blow to the dam of my tears was my son Silas getting the first plate of pancakes, and no one noticed! On Mother’s Day! But I nobly said nothing and continued drinking my coffee.

I won’t recite the litany of offenses. It included a grumpy big sister and an annoying little brother constantly picking at one another, and ended with father and daughter in a parent-preteen standoff about her attitude, which is terribly tiresome to conduct as a parent and infinitely more tiresome to hear as a bystander. On Mother’s Day! How could they?!

My coffee was unfinished and still hot, but I couldn’t take it any more. “I’m going for a walk,” I tearfully choked out. Laced my shoes, slammed the screen door. Pulled up my jacket hood, loped around the neighborhood and cried quietly.

The nerve of my family, to ruin my special day! Other families, my Facebook feed had cheerfully informed me, were giving their mothers breakfast in bed. Other children were probably hugging one another as they danced around their beloved mother, other husbands probably regaling her with chocolate and roses and loving words about her tireless devotion etc.

After I had my little cry, I began to notice people. An old woman walking a tiny dog, alone. A middle-aged woman whose face tightened with a manufactured grin as she greeted me with an obligatory good morning. I began to think about people who don’t have families, or aren’t on good terms with their families; and my inconsiderate, arguing mess of a family at home began to look like a little slice of heaven.

There they all were, together, a day off of work and school, and I could be with them too! And Nathan had cooked pancakes for all of us! And my children had made and written special things for me – and the day was only beginning!

At home, I found father and daughter tenderly talking things through. Hugs and apologies followed all around.

But one of the apologies I refuted. Luthien said, “I’m sorry I ruined Mother’s Day for you, Mom.”

I told her nothing was ruined, and then I suggested we just forget about Mother’s Day and enjoy our Sunday together. Which is what we did.

Which – as could be expected – included more moments of aggressive sibling relations and parental impatience. But also – as could be expected (if only a person remembers to look) – scintillated with beauty, love, delight, and joy.

treasured gifts from my children

treasured gifts from my children

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Ahhh, I know I can always count on you to blow away the veneer of perfection that ends up on Facebook. I appreciate that, because what was most notable about my Mother’s Day was that I DIDN’T end up crying myself silly over a relatively minor offense. I guess it was your turn this year; I got next.

  2. Thank you for a fresh slice of honesty and comedy. One of my favorite lines from _Hannah Coulter_ (by Wendell Berry) is “expectations are a puff of smoke.”

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