Yesterday a man who delivers a weekly newspaper to our office wished us all a happy mother’s day. He never lingers for personal conversations, so doesn't know I am the only one. The two other women want children but spent their prime fertile years with creeps. Now it is almost too late and despite wishing, hoping and praying, nothing looks promising. We’ve discussed sperm donors, and adoption, but they don't want to do this alone. They saw what that did to their mothers.
It's risky to say, “Happy Mother’s Day” to a stranger. She could have miscarriaged two weeks ago, or watched a daughter die from cancer last month, or lost her mother this year and dreads the holiday. She may smile and say “Why, thank you”. And you’ll go on your way, thinking you made someone happy.
You won’t see her later, in bed under covers, crying until exhausted.
I was one of those women. I had a miscarriage the day before Mother’s Day and another one six months later. The first time a stranger wished me "Happy Mother's Day" I couldn't comprehend what he was saying. So he said it again. I nodded and then found the closest bathroom. I held on to the stall door and silently screamed. Mime technique became unexpectedly useful. I used it to create a Mona Lisa inspired "mask". The Happy Mother's Day well wishers could interpret my smile however they wished.
Years later, after I had children who served me breakfast in bed, with a dandelion bouquet on the tray, and M & M’s on the side, I still remembered the missing ones. No one, not even my husband, knew this day had moments of sadness.
Every Mother’s Day I called my mother because I felt guilty the one year I didn't. The obligation made the conversation awkward. I didn’t think Mother’s Day mattered to her because she said it didn’t. But when she died I found a scrap book I didn't know existed. In it was the mother’s day poem I wrote when I was ten. It was written in third person, describing her as a young mother who loved her baby girl. She laughed when she read it. That wasn't the intended response. I thought she'd cry happy tears like the mothers on TV. I encased it in plastic so she could hang it on the wall. When I didn’t see it again, I thought she threw it away.
My daughter and I celebrate “M.D.” by watching the campy horror flick, “Flesh Eating Mothers”. It’s a morality play. A philandering husband spreads a new strand of VD and turns the women he sleeps with into cannibals. By chance they are all mothers and the easiest prey is their children. In one scene a mother encourages her son to drink more milk and pictures him as a juicy lamb chop. It is so horrible it is hilarious.
We invited my daughter’s husband to watch it with us, but he won't. The title reminds him of the mother he wants to forget.
Most women I know have mother issues of varying complexities. The men do too.
Maybe we need a national day of therapy. “Hey! You look like someone who came from a mother. May I give you a hug?”