Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I hate Mother’s Day Sunday! The effort I have to put in to seem appreciative for the small, mandatory display of paltry appreciation I receive after putting in a lifetime of sacrifices, genuine love and self denial I applied into raising my three children, giving them the best life I possibly could while working two jobs, as a single parent. They went to the best collages, had beautiful wardrobes and a car at their disposal, while I took the bus and two trains to and from work, just so they could ‘fit in’ with their friends and get great jobs. I hocked every piece of jewelry I had (engagement ring, wedding band, two gold bracelets and a string of pearls) just so they would have nice weddings and even borrowed money to cover furnishing apartments and Sheva Brochos that I am still paying off to this day. And it is all for nothing.
My children are all doing well, Boruch Hashem, but I rarely see them even though they all live within driving distance. They seldom call and it’s as though their births and growing up years were only a dream, because I feel like no one’s mother! Yes, I have grandchildren I see seldom, mostly from photographs, and they don’t know me at all. It is only on the second Sunday in May that I can count on receiving three calls wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day, very short calls that are like a dagger to my heart. I also receive three flower arrangements from the same flower shop and spend more time thanking the same delivery guy than my children spend with me. I also return three calls to thank each one for the flowers they sent and leave a message on their answering machines because they do not pick up. These are the things I have earned as a mother. This day is nothing but a torment that intensifies my pain and validates my aloneness. I have no one and nothing. So I will do what I have done every Sunday since my last child left home, I will go to the Senior Citizens Center, or the park, or the Geriatric Home for the Aged and spend time with all the other forgotten parents and grandparents. Even with the mask and gloves these lonely people know me, and look forward to my visit with them, so perhaps that is my purpose in life, to make theirs less painfully lonely than my own.
I hate Mother’s Day Sunday
My heart bleeds for you and the pain you carry and I am at a loss for how to answer you so that my words are words that bring you comfort. I do not know the circumstances of your family dynamics so it would be grossly unfair to render advice on that which I am not knowledgeable about, and only from your perspective. It would have been helpful had I gotten some perspective from each of your grown children so that I could address this very sad issue in total and to everyone’s satisfaction, and thus, be able to offer a way to heal and correct this situation. As this is not a realistic expectation, I will address my reply to you as best I can under these very limited circumstances.
I, too, vehemently dislike and discount Mother’s Day. In my opinion, it absolves negligent, selfish and uncaring adult children from being attentive and appreciative all year through to parents who have tirelessly sacrificed, loved unconditionally and supported above and beyond expectation, always being there for their children and continue to do so even into their ‘golden years’. One day a year doesn’t cut it for me either and my own children know that this is the one day I take for myself, where I shut off my phone, go into my room and introspect on what kind of mother I am, how well I raised my own children and where we are both lacking. I also thank Hashem that he allowed me the joy of motherhood, the tzar gidul bonim (it wasn’t always easy), the nachas, the ‘teen years’ (that every parent doesn’t think they’ll survive) and the adult years where the adult kids with kids of their own suddenly wake up one morning thinking they know more than their aging parents. And, at the end of each Mother’s Day Sunday, when I finally emerge from my self imposed retreat, I make myself a list of ‘takonos’ that have to be addressed, both on my part and that of my children.
You, my friend, need to do the same. By your own description, you have been a model mother and I can in no way understand why and how your children became so alienated from you. One child, maybe, but all three? I think that perhaps you may have chosen to block out some events that were traumatic enough to warrant such deeply wounding behavior and buried it over time. I will not go further on this line of thought but suggest that, although it may be hurtful to you to acknowledge that perhaps in some way, you may have encouraged their behavior by sacrificing too much to give them too much, and in so doing you sacrificed love and attention by being absent too much, working to give them all those ‘things…’. But enough said. I will, however, tell you that it would serve you well to get in touch with them and tell them how YOU feel. Ask them why they keep you at a distance and there’s such little face time. Hear them out and let them hear you out, and see if there is no merit on either side. You’re still the Mother, the Teacher……, so make the first move and invite them over and try to get to the bottom of it all, so that you can start to heal and move towards one another rather than keep each other at a distance. Life is too short for that.
I hate Mother’s Day too, because I feel it is against the Jewish values of Kibbud Av V’ Aim, whereby we honor and show love, gratitude and respect to our parents 365 days a year and not just on the one. It obliterates that whole concept when you choose to do it only on the one day of the year which serves only to enrich the florists, card and candy companies and, in our previous reality the restaurants and cafes. At least we see eye to eye on that score. So, I hope you will accept my proposal of working towards a solution, by reaching out to your children and making it easier for all involved to work towards becoming a healthy, cohesive and unified family.