The part that struck me the most about Mother’s day this year was how excited you were. You were so amped up to give me presents, make cards, and even broke down into a two-hour cry-fest after your dad accidentally spilled the beans: You had big plans and were going to try to make me coffee as a surprise.
It was awesome to feel that level of excitement from you.
It reminded me of that giddy feeling I got when my siblings and I would go out to the garden, pick my mom a daffodil, make her breakfast (usually a bowl of cereal in a giant recycled Cool-Whip container with a cup of instant coffee). We’d make her cards, do our best for 20 minutes, and then spend the rest of the day fighting like feral hyenas. But, that was how the day is supposed to go.
It Is Written (somewhere).
Thinking about that while enjoying the flowers you made out of paper, drinking coffee (dad helped!) out of a new mug in bed…It was the first time that I really finally felt like a good mom and could take it all in. There are moments, but that day was a really, really good day.
Here’s the thing, kiddo. You don’t know any different, but a friend of mine says, “Happy Complicated Feelings Day” and that’s pretty much how I view it, too.
See, the role models I have for parenting are a bunch of amazing, wonderful, strong, tolerant adults, who were not always my parents. They were usually the parents of other kids in my class, theater troop, biology professor, registrar at college, Fine Arts director, you get the idea. The years I could fully depend on my parents are few and far between. There are good years, bad years, good stretches, and silent, awkward stretches. It doesn’t mean I don’t love them. We are just a bunch of puzzle pieces thrown in a box, some pieces are missing. Sometimes you have to shove two pieces together in just that way to sort-of make it work for a short time. But that doesn’t actually solve the puzzle. It’s just a stop gap until the piece is picked up and moved somewhere else.
The road map I have for parenting has been written on, folded, refolded, cut and pasted from other maps, white-outed, stained with coffee, and unreadable in many places. It also hasn’t really been fully updated since 1996.
There are also a ton of McDonalds on the map and I’m a vegetarian.
It’s not my parents I call when something is amiss. I call those people who did their best with a kid that wasn’t theirs, or friends who have been by my side since before I could drive a car who, oddly, had similar circumstances. I email them, get their sage advice when I need it. Or, I think about what they would have likely done in similar circumstances and it guides me like the North Star.
But that’s all I have – a star in 2019. I’m not Moana or Magellan. I can’t even get around in my city without Google Maps. And some days it’s very cloudy and it’s hard to see stars.
The way my parents dealt with conflict fell into two distinct categories, and this was not a continuum. They would either yell and scream, or completely ignore everything and pretend nothing happened. They still do. And that’s not me, that’s how I want to parent you.
That’s all to say most people struggle to be parents and there is a lot out there on how hard it is to be a parent. I have a hard time consistently being someone’s daughter, and that makes it really hard to raise one.
Unlearning that while trying to raise a little you is not easy, but I try my best. Doing this without a tether to the person this day is supposed to make me feel excited about celebrating makes days like Mother’s Day hella-complicated. It’s not you and your dad – it’s when you guys are gone. When you go to school the next day, and your dad goes to work, being alone in the house gives some wiggle room for the complexities to sink in, get their grip.
And this isn’t to throw my folks under the bus. Lots of people are in a similar boat. It’s actually quite relatable once you find others. Which is why my friend calls it “Happy Complicated Feelings Day.” Being someone’s daughter is, from my perspective, really hard.
But, being your mom is a gift. It’s the best.
Well, like, 95% of the time. The whole “not eating things that aren’t beige” thing is getting a little old, but 95% is pretty good 🙂
I have two flower daffodils made of paper cut-outs of your hands, straws, and scotch tape. There is also a card that says:
“To Mommy. Love Acey.”
This is, of course, completed with a hand-drawn heart.
When opened, it says “Thank You.”
When I asked you, “Thank you for what?”
Good job, Kiddo.
Thank you, too.
PS – I think I know what I want for my next spontaneous tattoo.