With the exception of my birthday, a random day on the calendar, I don’t have any holidays that celebrate me. I’m not a Veteran. I’m not Irish, technically at least. I do count quite a number of Irish immigrants as family, but there is no blood between us. They are the kind of family you make rather than grow in an uncultivated garden. I don’t even qualify for labor day since I don’t have an employer.
So the idea that there is a day set aside to celebrate me at all, let alone the work I do to try to raise other human beings to be happy, healthy, productive people, should be something I embrace. My husband, who has a very successful career, was once disappointed when he brought home yet another accolade and I made the lukewarm reply, “that’s nice.” In a very hurt, rhetorical tone he said “Boy, you just aren’t proud of me at all, are you?”
I knew I should be more excited for him. But it was the fourth or fifth Super-something title he’d brought home in a month and it simply underscored, highlighted, and italicized how little what I do is appreciated. No one has ever given me an award for being the best-throw-up-cleaner-upper or a certificate recognizing my achievements in being the only person in our house who can push the disgusting bathroom trash down so that it doesn’t overflow. No one celebrates my achievements when I successfully calm a nightmare or FINALLY make a teacher understand why my learning disabled child can’t do things the way the teacher wants him to. No one celebrates me for providing a proper funeral, despite a muddy hillside and clay soil, for my daughter’s beloved cat before racing down to the animal shelter before they close to get a “new” cat. Only on mothers’ day do we generally take the time to thank our moms for all the things they do for us like this, the things that won’t make it into the newspaper or provide us a nice plaque for our wall. I should really, really love Mothers’ Day.
Mothers’ Day for me, however, is an annual reminder that two of my kids have specific learning disabilities. It’s a day that reminds me that, no matter how much I love my kids, no matter how much I wish I could give them a wonderful life, there are limitations to what love can do. One of my LD kids has had to really struggle to be properly diagnosed and accommodated. He struggles with developmental delays that make him less able to accept his condition and deal with it directly. He is a volcano of frustration and fear and resentment and the only safe place for him to pour all that hot lava inside of him is on me. So he does. And there isn’t enough love in the universe for me to fix his world, no matter how much I wish there were. I’ve given him all the tools at my disposal, and now he needs to roll up his sleeves and use them. It’s not an uncommon story for parents of kids with LDs.
I enjoyed posts from my friends on social media about their wonderful kids giving them a wonderful Mothers’ Day. Two of my wonderful kids did go out of their way to let me know that they love and appreciate me. But for me, Mothers’ Day is truly a reminder that sometimes the hardest part of being a mom is to shoulder the pain of your kids, even when they resent you for it. Sometimes it’s dosing some tough love because you’re pretty sure that’s the right thing even though it hurts enough to break your heart. There are no awards for it. No accolades or plaques. Sometimes there is not even a thank you waiting at the end of the long road ahead. Just a lot of worry that they may not figure it out before their best opportunities expire. But you’re still their mother, and you still love them, more than your own life. So you do the hardest work of all and let them hate you. I’m just not sure I need a day to remind me how hard that is.