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An Adult Child’s Response To Mother’s Day Woes

        Last week, I wrote an article about mothering yourself, particularly on Hallmark holidays like Mother’s Day. I suggested that instead of wallowing in sadness because our children didn’t meet our needs on that day, we should give to ourselves whatever we had hoped our children would do for us on that day. We would feel happier, more filled and less angry. One of my readers decided to mail the article to her daughter. She did not comment but only asked for her daughter’s feedback.

 

         As a result, her daughter sent her the following letter. I am printing it with the permission of both mother and daughter. They both felt the experience was of great value. It helped both of them understand each other better. They were pleased to share their reactions with you.

 

 

Dear Mom,

 

         I had hard time reading the article you sent because I was busy absorbing the messages that I felt applied to me – the one of the neglected mother on Mother’s Day. But then I realized, more importantly, the one of being the daughter who neglected her mother on Mother’s Day. Well, just like in the article, I had all the excuses. I was neglectful because I didn’t realize how much you needed my attention that particular day. I was under the incorrect impression that Mother’s Day was like a bonus day, that is extra; and because of my preoccupation with my own kids’ needs, I didn’t give much thought to Mother’s Day at all.

 

         Only a few days before, when you mentioned Mother’s Day, did I even know it was on Sunday, so I wrongly assumed we could just bypass it this year. Had I realized your feelings for Mother’s Day, that wouldn’t have happened. What I realize now (correct me if I’m wrong) is that Mother’s Day is a magnifier for you. Each time throughout the year when you feel neglected or unappreciated, it was on hold until Mother’s Day came and went by with no more than a phone call.

 

         When that happened all the bad feelings surfaced and blossomed with the new neglectful act that left you feeling unimportant and not appreciated. I always thought Mother’s Day was just a Hallmark holiday that Moms (myself included) could benefit from. I didn’t realize the emotional importance that it carries for you.

 

         For me, any heartfelt appreciation at random intervals fills my need more than a random day in May. I didn’t become a parent just on that day, so why that day, more important than the one before it or after it? But I realize now that those are my feelings, and they don’t apply to you. For you, as I now understand from the article, Mother’s Day is  vital to you. And you very much needed my attention and I very much did not give it to you. I am so incredibly sorry.

 

         I am asking you for a second chance.

 

         I now know how you feel and perhaps we can fill the next 364 days with love and appreciation, so that next year when we do celebrate Mother’s Day properly, you will feel that it is an extra – like icing on a cake instead of the bread and water it is now. And, perhaps this year, we can have Mother’s Day “nidche” (like a fast day that got moved to another day). So you choose and we’ll do it right! We’ll give you a Mother’s Day that you want and that you rightly deserve.

Love, your daughter


 


 


     I was humbled and thrilled to feel that my article had been a catalyst to this interchange between mother and daughter. The courage of the mother to be ready to share her thoughts and feelings with her daughter by sharing the article was a tribute to who she is. The insights that the daughter, a mother herself, first got and accepted about her mother’s feelings was wonderful.

 

         It is very difficult to not assume that everyone feels as we do. Because, of course, we feel that our thinking is the right way. For the daughter to gain these new insights and realize her mother (a well spouse) feels differently about Mother’s Day, and that’s ok; for her to accept this and not try to get her mother to change her thinking to be more like her daughter’s, was wonderful for me to read.

 

         Not only did her daughter acknowledge the acceptability of the different perception, but she also offered to make it up to the mother based on the mother’s needs and feelings. The openness both these women displayed, their obvious acceptance of each other as individuals and the love and respect displayed for each other should be an example to us all.

 

         You can reach me at annnovick@hotmail.com 

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When one is blind one learns to use Braille to read. When one cannot walk, a wheelchair gives mobility. Sign language allows a mute person to speak and ocular implants assist in hearing when one is deaf. These are all compensatory strategies that help a person function despite his disability. But compensatory strategies are not just for physical problems. Understanding our psychological weaknesses and setting up our lives to ensure that we are not tempted to repeat our past mistakes, is as necessary as any aid to the disabled.

Well spouses have often discovered that their friends and relatives, despite their closeness to the situation, often don’t realize the tremendous emotional impact living with chronic illness has on the family. With the best intentions, suggestions, ideas and criticism are offered, based on the non-experience of those with healthy families. Even when the good intentioned get a taste of the difficulties, it is sometimes not enough for them to then identify and understand what the family of the chronically ill must face on a constant basis.

Over the past two weeks I have shared letters from a therapist and a well spouse. Both of the letters gave personal insights into the process of losing hope, how we react when that happens and some ways of coping when test scores, diagnosis and just simple repetitive behavior indicate that change for the better is impossible.

Dear Ann,

I’ve read your last few articles on psycho-neurological testing (Oct.8-22) with interest. As a therapist who has counseled couples dealing with chronic illness, I’d like to give you another perspective.

Dear Ann,

Your articles on the Neuro-Psychological Testing were right on (October 8-22). My husband underwent testing twice and your articles explained it things exactly the way they were. Besides the test, we also tried therapy.

Very often when we can’t face our big hurts or big loses we focus on the little ones. We can discuss those. We can cry over the small loses, be angry at the smaller hurts even though it may look trite and sound ridiculous to others.

Over the last two weeks we have been discussing one way in which well spouses can determine whether behavior displayed by their ill partners is caused by their illness or is a way they have chosen to act. We have focused on Psycho-Neurological testing, what it can tell us, as well as its pros and cons.

Last week I discussed a question that haunts many well spouses: not knowing if the difficult and often inappropriate behavior frequently displayed by their partners are caused by the disease and therefore not-controllable, or if the behavior is a choice the spouse makes and can therefore be changed. This doubt can be the source of much frustration and many marital disagreements. One way of alleviating this doubt is by having a psycho- neurological work up done. But that path is not so simple.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/an-adult-childs-response-to-mothers-day-woes/2007/06/20/

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