Every six, eight, or eleven years (leap years make this calculation complicated), my birthday (5/12) and Mother’s Day are one in the same. I am used to sharing some of the birthday glory with the just before or soon to come holiday. As a child, this was slightly annoying in the way that it is often annoying for kids born near Christmas or another holiday. This annoyance was complicated by being told as a child that I was born on Mother’s Day, a lie that I was not aware of until I found out as a young adult that I was actually born on a Saturday. Something isn’t adding up here… I didn’t know it at the time, but that little lie was one of many devices that my mother used in creating the perpetual guilt that lives inside me. It was an element of control. It was unhealthy.
I’m skipping ahead, and believe me, I’m skipping a lot. Last Thursday night (5/11), I searched the internet for the best call and message blocking systems for my phone. Despite many conversations, messages, and emails, I still get calls and messages from my mother lined with guilt inducing comments or questions and I’m done with it.
I’ve spent (many) years ‘dealing with’ my own emotions surrounding my relationship with my mother and have recently achieved my greatest (thus far) level of acceptance and peace with it. Some of this peace has come from my own journey through motherhood and firm belief that my kids owe me nothing. I (well, my wife and I) brought them into this world. It is our responsibility to nurture them, teach them, raise them to be independent beings. Our hopes for our children are for them to be who they are and be happy. Simple as that.
My mother once told me, in defense of her anti-LGBT statements, “you’ll understand when you have kids of your own.” What I understand now is how wrong she was.
No one should feel like they have to maintain unhealthy relationships with people, related by blood or not. Not out of politeness, not out of guilt, not out of a sense of obligation.
For many years, my birthdays have been enjoyed (and sometimes not) with varying amounts of anxiety and guilt with Mother’s Day looming. I’m done with that, too. This year, mine was great.