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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org