It was a rough weekend for me. Mother's Day has always been difficult, fraught with confusion, pressure, and conflicting emotions for as long as I can remember. May 11 is also my mother's birthday, and every few years they fall on the same day, as they did this year. At least I no longer have to give her a gift that was never good enough, or write a card, struggling with what to say that won't break my heart or my mind, and holding my breath that it pleases her so as not to earn me that dreaded smirk and/or the silent treatment for the rest of the day.
I know I'm not like her at all. I don't worry about that. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, we are at opposite ends of the spectrum. What hurts is that she doesn't love me, that she never did. All the commercials and the social media in the buildup to Mother's Day, celebrating moms and all they do, the way they nurture and protect and give of themselves, the special bond they have with their children - that's completely missing from my realm of experience. My life was not the life of a child who was loved.
Nothing makes that clearer to me than having my own baby, the happiness he has brought me, and the depth of love I feel for him. I would do anything to protect him. I understand that he is separate from me, and that alone is a bigger gift than I can imagine.
My parents failed to form an attachment with me, and no matter what else happens I will always have that nagging feeling deep inside that I am different, that I am alone, a little lost, not quite trusting anyone completely. No one can fix it. It's a basic condition of human development. I am grateful for my son, for a chance to do it better, to feel that attachment from the other side at least, although it makes my grief so fresh again. The way he looks at me, smiles and talks to me, melts into my shoulder, lets me know not just that he loves me, but that he knows that I love him. Nothing matters to me more.
The photo above feels iconic. Our first Mother's Day. It looks like the kind of photo that people were sharing on Sunday of themselves as babies with their mothers. I hope that Hunter will look at this picture as an adult and feel, purely and easily, all of the things I always wished I could feel about my mother. I hope he thinks I'm beautiful, as a person, on the inside, because of the way I cared for him and loved him no matter what.
Coincidentally, Phil's mom also has her birthday on May 11, and she is someone I am happy to celebrate. Last year it was a welcome distraction to go and visit her for the weekend, and before we left she hugged me and called me her daughter. I cried. It was so unexpected and needed and kind. I had no idea that just a few weeks later my own little baby would make his presence known, to fill me with hope and trepidation and this stubborn, boundless love.
Title quote by Tennesee Williams. Dedicated to my little-girl self.