They are there, already marked and highlighted on the calendars we buy, Presidents Day, Secretary’s Day, Groundhog Day, etc. Then come the more personal ones, the ones everyone ought to observe and celebrate. Television commercials provide examples of these special dates: healthy happy children eagerly awaiting Santa’s visit, beautiful slender girls receiving huge diamond rings from tall dark and handsome men, elegant Halloween parties in which everyone looks smashing no matter what costume they’re wearing. The flashing of perfect white teeth, beautiful shiny hair, well, you get the picture.
The point is, all this perfection sort of ruins the enjoyment of special dates. Let’s face it, not everyone is healthy, not everyone is beautiful, not everyone has perfect teeth, not everyone looks good wearing a hat! Lately I hear more and more comments such as “I’m not looking forward this (whatever) holiday”, “I’m not ready”, “I don’t feel like I used to.” Mind you, these are nice people who are usually happy and have sunny dispositions. So, what is it about the lack of “spirit” when it comes to special dates? I blame it on the way we are expected to act and feel. We are stifled by the pressure and the many rules. Deep inside mostly everyone strives to celebrate emulating that perfect television image while at the same time being painfully aware this cannot always be.
Mother’s Day is approaching (for those of us living in the USA) and I find that as a daughter I, too , would love to be able to celebrate “television style” but the truth is, I have never felt close to my mother, I always found it difficult to get her a card (I could not relate to words such as “thank you for always being supportive” I mean, she never was!) Back when we were younger, my parents and I, we went through the motions and rituals but I never felt the way I knew I should have felt, the way I heard my friends talk about, the way I wished it could have been. Time went by, I became a mother myself and the gap I felt became wider and deeper. I noticed what I did for my children, and it was a vivid reminder of what she never did for me.
I don’t want to be unfair, my mother was not “mean” she was just cold, she was demanding, stern, domineering. For those of you who have heard of Margaret Thatcher (the Iron Lady), well, there’s my mother’s image. Always dressed properly with a stiff upper lip. Her favorite word was NO.
I suppose I was a big disappointment for her, what with my free spirit, Bohemian inclinations, and wishes to travel aboard a gypsy caravan. I did obey her rules but it was never enough, there was always something missing.
My mother is 86 years old, she has Alzheimer and lives in a nursing home. She is still the Iron Lady and her caretakers fill my ears with stories about “how difficult she is” I nod and thank them for their patience. I know what they mean!
I have come to accept that I will never experience what it is to really love my mother. I don’t mean the lukewarm affection I’ve sustained through the years, I mean that special love, the kind that makes you teary eyed and choke in mid sentence.
No, as a daughter, this Mother's Day will surely not be perfect (according to "television guidelines") however, my children are my cloud's silver lining, because of them and their love I can celebrate this coming special date joyfully, and definetely my way.
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