As most of my readers know, I have mommy issues. For as long as I can remember, I never looked forward to Mother’s Day and was so relieved when it was over as my mother commanded she be worshipped more than usual. Even when I began having kids, I never felt like I was celebrated or respected as a mother because I was forced to drag my kids to spend the entire weekend between my mother’s and my mother-in-laws. It wasn’t until I took control of my maternal role, and with the help of establishing boundaries and the pandemic that I now spend the hallmark day doing what I do on any other Sunday.
Over the last year, instead of focusing solely on my tumultuous role as a daughter, I have contemplated motherhood overall. I have four children. Two are adults, and two are teenagers. I believe we can all agree that it’s terrifying raising kids, especially kids of color, in times like this. When a friend or family member of mine becomes pregnant, I wonder what they’re feeling when they are given the usually unhelpful advice like, be prepared never to sleep again, or you better start saving now for that college fund or say goodbye to your life it’s your child’s now.
At the beginning of my motherhood journey, I was only 19 and the advice being given was coming in from all sides. It was so exhausting. It felt like everyone else wanted to babysit me while caring for my baby. No one trusted me or allowed me to learn how to care for my baby as I went along. So, it’s no wonder I never felt like my kids were truly mine. Especially my first kid. My motherly influences were more worried about how becoming grandparents would affect them instead of how it would affect me. For my mom, her biggest fear was a monetary loss. For my ex-mother-in-law, it was her opportunity to take over and raise my kid the way she had raised hers. I can say that to this day; only my ex-mother-in-law changed her tone when the kids were born. She loved all of my kids, even those that weren’t hers. She showed up for them, talked to them, and took care to be infatuated with them. Sure, she still has her meddlesome ways that annoy the fuck out of me, but the most important thing that came out of it is that my kids love her! Recently, my mother has taken in my oldest child, her first grandkid, and is taking care to respect him and support him better than she did me. I love that!
Look, I will never sugarcoat motherhood. Even as an adult who doesn’t seem capable of connecting with my maternal influences, I’ve realized that motherhood goes beyond what happens initially. Being a mom is hard. It’s almost indescribable, and its difficulty comes in phases as children grow. I still stay up late at night, riddled with worry about everything that could happen to my kids while they aren’t in my protective circle. It’s difficult because the sleepless nights from feedings and diaper changes were traded in for fear, anxiety, and constant threats that children face every day. It makes it even harder and more complicated to allow them to fall, fail, and experience heartbreak and loss. Many mothers in the wild won’t allow their children to experience failure, heartbreak, or loss. They only suffocate them with love and light and mistakenly armor them with entitlement instead of humility.
In this society, when children are born with mental illness or in a body that doesn’t feel right, many mothers cover up their child’s dilemma and put on a fake smile about a child’s behavior that doesn’t fit in with their peers. It’s like taking a shortcut or cheating on the real hard work that comes with raising children that don’t match a mother’s vision. I wish these struggles would get more visibility, and it seems like they are, slowly, even with the resistance from SCOTUS and conservatives. I suggest highlighting these struggles for mothers, not to shame them or any child but, to show other mothers that mental illness, gender identity, and threats to their safety affect children and other children around them. Motherhood struggles are nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. They are the real deal. This was one of my many fuck ups as a mom despite my vows to never do it. My kids have told me so. The thing with me, though, unlike my mother, my kids are allowed to be upset at me for something that I had done years ago and are allowed to confront me about it now. How else would I learn about my kids and who they are as individuals? How can I assure them that I will try not to make the same mistakes and adjust? Of corpse, there are things they have been wrong about, but change doesn’t come from silencing a child or being offended when a child confronts a parent about a screw-up. Sure, it’s exhausting having four humans that have different personalities, and what may be wrong for one may be a delight for another. Of corpse, I will slip up, flail, and get frustrated. But, all four of them are worth my attention as siblings, especially as individuals now that they are spreading their wings and flying into the wild.
It’s also refreshing to see the struggles of motherhood on platforms like Tik-Tok. I recently saw a grandmother venting about not being able to get her grandbaby to sleep, and she was stressed! In all its phases, Motherhood is stressful; let’s be more open about it.
Then there’s the quote that goes around human baby genital showers about how hard motherhood is but the rewards are worth it…
Again, these kids didn’t ask to be born. We shouldn’t expect the children we bare to be grateful for a life that could be treacherous for them to live and expect rewards from them or the society that underrates the difficulties mothers face. It’s also a role that condemns us to a lifetime of worry. While there are periods of relief, joy, pride, and happiness, I don’t feel there will come a day that I’ll receive gifts or a certificate of accomplished motherhood. How can we, since we all mother in unique ways?
I’ll get varying opinions on this, but choosing to have kids can be selfish. I hear, “oh, I want kids so bad, and while the methods used to conceive are fascinating thanks to Science, what happens when the child you conceive, adopt, or even inherit alters your entire outlook on motherhood? Do these mothers feel the same if the child they worked so hard to acquire comes with depression, anxiety, or disabilities? I’ve heard mothers say, “do you know what I went through to give you life?” Mothers carry guilt. More advice and methods to manage and release it should be just as abundant as what diaper rash cream to use. Motherhood guilt should never be inflicted on the child. Kids have it hard enough. I don’t feel like my role as a mom is to make it more difficult when they are angry, scared, or in Trouble.
Again, I think of my confusing relationship with my mom. Before I was born, she had carried a baby up to seven months before the baby died, and my mom had to deliver a lifeless infant. Of course, that’s traumatic and sad as she choose motherhood at this point in her life. She tried again and got me instead. Maybe it’s how my mom shares her recollection of that story; it comes off as she wants my respect, obedience, and love because I should be grateful I wasn’t stillborn. My mom has told me, “I’m her miracle child.” She probably won’t believe it throughout my life; I have often wished I was that kid because my mom had such a difficult time with me. She wasn’t equipped for my inherited anxiety, depression, curiousness, and all that I am that didn’t match what she expected when she decided she should be a mother.
In emotional and loud tirades with my mom, I would tell her she made me feel unwanted, too tricky for her, and when I asked her why she had me, she always said, “because I wanted you” and “I love you.” Those aren’t reasons. They are wants and projections. Her love didn’t feel genuine most of the time. It felt as if it was obligatory. So, I never understood why I was expected to be grateful to her for giving me life, honor her wishes and then worship her without protest. I can’t wrap my head or spirit around that.
I wish my mother would have been honest and authentic with me. Perhaps that would have made our relationship more ideal because I would have felt helpful to her healing and had some sympathy for making things hard on her. Wishes that I am working with my inner child to manifest now with my aging mom.
I think it’s also selfish to expect rewards for motherhood. I love my four vagina turds mostly unconditionally. I have boundaries. I will do anything for them, but I don’t expect anything in return. I have hopes that they love me too. I mean, it’s a relationship. My kids don’t owe me their love. I feel that mothers have to earn their children’s love and not expect to imprint on their newborns. Sure it may happen that way, but love evolves in all relationships. It like like when I met my firstborn’s eyes for the first time and when he recently shared some of his childhood momma memories with me. Ones that I had to dig into my memory to remember, but I was so grateful he never lost that moment between us.
It’s like when my second child, the one I know for sure, loved me when he was born but also was an anxious child from the moment he was born. He has taught me so many lessons about myself and held me accountable for the promises I made and failed at. He has helped me become who I am today, and for a while there, I thought I couldn’t live without him, that he would forget me and I’d die because of that, but he calls me to tell me about anything and everything now.
It’s like when my third kid whose trust I’ve had to earn through patience and understanding. He’s so worth it! Then the moments where he’s angry, scared, frustrated, and I can let him be until he can clear his spirit, and then as if nothing happened, we can playfully talk shit to each other. and hug, and he says, “love you, momma.”
It’s like when my moody baby, who’s in their teens now, uses me to see how far they can take their attitude but then finds their way onto my lap to cuddle or when their hand finds its way into mine without saying a word or bringing up the issue from before. We can be and connect the way we always have.
Sometimes kids don’t mesh with their mothers. I can’t stand it when people judge or get offended when someone says they confess they cannot bear mother’s day or don’t have relationships with their mothers. I bring this up because of a memory of my sister and one of her typical judgemental Facebook posts trying to guilt someone for not visiting their mother, who lived close by, one Mother’s Day. She didn’t mind putting whoever was on blast without saying a name but didn’t consider how that person felt about their mother. I took that personally because I had confided to my sister about how shitty my husband’s mom had treated my kids and how my mom said something shitty about my parenting skills or the way I dressed or how my ex-mother-in-law was meddling and being manipulative, and even how her mother-in-law was a problem for me. I don’t have any obligation to her. Yet, she dared to try and make someone else feel guilty about not visiting their mom on mother’s day. Not all mothers deserve a visit on the first weekend of Sunday, sis. Realize that your experience and tolerance for abuse aren’t the same as everyone else.
I don’t know what having a natural maternal bond is like, as I’ve never felt it with my mom. I don’t have it. But, I know that my kids and I have a natural connection, and I strive to maintain their trust and love. I will never understand many things about human relationships and certain holidays like Mother’s Day, but I embrace the unknowns, complexities, and evolutions that mothers are capable of. We are life-givers as well as life destroyers. We are nurturers and deprivers. Motherhood isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a responsibility that has to come from a pure place of love and bravery, not societal and material want. Women are capable of anything. While we can be mothers, warriors, CEOs, and stay and home heiresses, we must remember that we chose to mother another human life and that responsibility comes without a return receipt. It’s more than just expecting our children to consume things we don’t necessarily need. Just let us know, every day, anyway, where we can continue to be mothers worth our children’s adoration.
To the mothers struggling with caring for their children, you are seen; you deserve a chance to rest, recharge and rethink. Don’t let guilt be the driving factor to harness your difficulties. Mother’s Day should include more than doting over moms; it should be a moment of solidarity for moms of all types, including trans-parents, fur-baby momma, and those who lost children or changed their minds not to have them. They count as moms too, and should be honored for any decision about motherhood that came from a place of truth and love for self and spirit.
This Mother’s Day wish is for those like you especially.