I really don't. Not anymore. Oh, there were times I loved the celebration of my being a mom, when my four offspring were younger. I remember little handprints on papers in bright colors, crafty mother's day gifts from elementary school that my babies were dying to give to me. Some couldn't wait until Sunday and I was given those gifts as they climbed down from their yellow school buses the Friday before a Mother's Day. Eyes bright with the joy of giving me something they had made themselves.
There were breakfasts in bed. One Mother's Day my two youngest girls slaved in the kitchen and brought me a plate of food that did not in fact look like something edible. Since they knew my favorite color was pink, they used some food coloring on the scrambled eggs and the french toast. There wasn't fruit in the eggs or raspberries on top--just food coloring. The mess in the kitchen was of epic proportions, as has often been the case on many a mother's day across the world. I didn't mind cleaning it up. I've cleaned up worse things.
Over the years, as some of the kids have moved from diapers to tricycles, from hula hoops to makeup and then on to what passes for adulthood, I have become a bit jaded at times about parenthood. This in no way means that I love my children any less. Anyone around me knows that I love each and every one of them. However, having said that, there is still a reality that cuts deeply into my heart. They do not love me in return.. Not in the way that I love them---and I can't expect them to. I remember every boo boo that I kissed, I remember every night I slept next to a hospital bed or health care worker or school I went to battle against for the sake of my child. My memories of holding precious newborns, nuzzling the necks of my toddlers, wanting to wake them up in the middle of the night just to play with them, are all so very fresh in my mind.
However, they do not hold the same memories that I do.
There have been times during their teenage years that I have wanted to run away. I remember my mother telling me that she had wanted to leave once---go alone to a motel, soak in a tub and just sleep. But this was when my older sister was gravely ill for years, she had three other small children and no one in her family--extended or otherwise---was there to give her any relief. Mom didn't want to leave when we were teenagers, because we never gave her any problems. We were good kids. Mom ruled the roost with an iron fist, and there have been times I wondered if our obedience came from fear of consequences or a simple knowledge of right from wrong. I'd like to think it was the latter, but I know it was sprinkled with a bit of the former. Mom loved her grandchildren with an intensity rivaling the sun at midday. I'm grateful to her for her love and advice as I became a mom once, twice, thrice and then a fourth time. When I miscarried, she cried with me. When I faced numerous illnesses and hospitalizations with my babies, she was always there. She was a blessing in my life.
We taught our babies how to pray, to have faith and to be kind. Do unto others, the golden rule and to be compassionate. I honestly remember doing these things. I do. But you know what? It must not have stuck with them. Not with all of them, at any rate. Their daddy was in the hospital for three surgeries in the past 9 months. They didn't come to see him. I nearly died and spent five days in the hospital recently. They never came to my beside.
Now Mother's Day is on Sunday. One child texted about coming to dinner. Really? That's nice. No, it's not. I'm not making dinner. In fact I do not plan to be here. I do not want contrived moments, false protestations of a love that is clearly not there in their actions or treatment of either me or their father. Perhaps I'm being petty, you may think. Well, that's ok. It might be true.
What I know, and what I feel is this: You cannot make someone feel something that they clearly do not feel. As is often said, actions speak louder than words. What I also know is that I do not have to put myself in a place where I am continually hurt. There is too much stress in my over-crowded life to keep feeling this hurt---but I do not know how to set aside my love for them in order to make it not hurt. When I see pictures of other mom's with their children, when I hear them say their children have become their best friends, I get a little catch in my throat.
So perhaps I am not what their idea of what a mother should have been, and they are not my idea of what grown children should be like. I suppose we will all have to live with those emotions. Thankfully, I won't have to live with them as long.
Happy Mother's Day everyone...