Mothers Day Hangover [OPINION]
I come to you today to stand for the few, the proud and the ostracized people who do not like Mother’s Day. If you don’t know my mother passed away on St. Patrick’s Day of this year. So if Mother’s Day wasn’t a favorite holiday of mine before, it really isn’t now.
Now you probably are asking yourself how I could not like Mother’s Day? Well let’s just say the image that was put toward as what a mother "is" was never quite the relationship that my mom and I had. You no doubt this weekend were bombarded by social media images of people professing their love for their mothers. And thanks to seriously flawed timelines I'm still seeing them today on Monday. And while we all know that social media reality is not real reality, you can get a general overall sense of a person‘s relationship with their mother. And I suppose that’s where my distaste for the holiday began. From the time I can remember there is only been one general description of a mother, and it usually includes buzzwords like caring, protective and empathetic. That was not my mother. And I felt really bad about that every Mother’s Day. Now before anyone starts to fire off an email accusing me of smack talking the dead, please note that my mother was a diagnosed type II Bipolar who raised me alone, and I was by all means a troubled child from a very young age. So our relationship was complicated to put it mildly.
The first time I ever saw a relationship like mine portrayed on TV was on HBO’s The Sopranos. The primary story line initially was about mob boss Tony Soprano and his troubled relationship with his mother, which was all based on the real life relationship between the series creator David Chase and his mother. When I first watched Livia Soprano run amok I finally felt like there were more people like me out there. And not just in the fictitious mob underworld, but in real life as well. It was like therapy for me to see Tony navigate the relationship with his mother up until her death. Which is essentially what I just dead minus the criminal enterprise aspect.
Back when I was growing up mental health awareness was pretty nonexistent. My mother at one point in the 1970's had attempted suicide and the doctor she was brought to sewed up her gashed wrists and told her “let’s just not tell anyone about this” and sent her home. (Flash forward to 2008, the mere mention of suicide led my mother back to an involuntary stay at a psychiatric ward. So at least we've progressed as a society.) So back then having a mother who is mentally ill made me more of an odd ball than I already was for having her be a single parent. Which is perhaps why I have carried an eternal chip on my shoulder up until now, or at least that's what my therapist says. As the years went on our relationship never really improved, it just changed. Once I started traveling in the radio circus and left my hometown we would see each other 2 to 3 times a year. And I would love to tell you that those visits were sunshine and roses, but unfortunately more than a few ended up with screaming matches and walkouts.
Then my mom got sick. She had a series of mini strokes which led to vascular dementia, a very aggressive form of dementia. Her doctor told us 5 years max. At age 65 we moved her out of her home in Chicago to a memory care facility in Wisconsin where we were living at the time. And as our circus traveled here to Michigan, my mother came with. (In case you're wondering I was her only immediate relative.) The most unique thing to ever happen to me is to watch my mothers personality change as her dementia worsened. And while we only had a couple of the moments where she didn’t know who I was, and that was at the very end, for the most part my mother’s personality changed into what mothers are “supposed “to be.
And who did my mom turn into? She was loving, caring and even fawning over me. Needless to say I was not used to this kind of relationship. And over a period of years I grew into it. But unfortunately it did not erase the 35 years of memories that I had prior to her personality change. Now let me say I am very glad that I got to experience it for the time that I did. She would talk about me constantly to all the caretakers, brag about me and pretty much bother everyone looking for me at any second I wasn’t around her. So I got a lot of phone calls from the memory care facility from my mom looking for me in a loving and caring way. It was....different. At least for me.
So for the last couple of years I suppose I was finally able to see what the hype about Mother’s Day was all about. I finally could realize that people are genuinely bragging about their mother. And good for them. But also good for all of us who didn’t have relationships like that. It’s hard to grow up in that shadow. Or at least it was back then. Maybe nowadays people are more understanding, and no one ever has to deal with having the “crazy “mom like I did back in the day. But I just want you to know that it’s OK to not feel OK about Mother’s Day. So log off social media and go find something nice to do! And remember that you’re not alone.