mother's dayIt’s Mother’s Day. I’m in the car, on our usual trek to join my husband’s family in celebration, and I’m deep in reflection. It’s a weird day for me.

Danny (my dad) would say that it’s a Hallmark made-up holiday. He’s right. And yet it’s a made-up holiday that nearly everyone observes…which can be tough for those of us with challenging mother-situations.

I don’t remember what Mother’s Day was like when I was young. Was it even around? I don’t remember what it meant to me during my Moonie years – when I referred to my mother as “Mother” and knew she could do no wrong. I know I did my best to ignore it in my early twenties when I felt most estranged from my mother. And now…

Have you ever tried to find a Mother’s Day card for your mom, when your mom did not walk the normal mom path? Most cards thank mothers for all they did and all they do. And while my mom is currently pretty great on the “do” part, all that she did back then leaves a bit to be desired.

I haven’t found many cards that say, “Thanks for leaving when I was young.” Or, “Thanks for leaving when I was young, but being around now.” I’ve yet to find “It was tough and I’m glad we’re working it out.” Or to open a card and see in beautiful script, “I know you weren’t really around back then, but thanks for everything now and I love you.” There should be a recovery-themed card line. Then at least I’ll find a card that says, “Thanks for doing the best you could.”

My mother and I walk a journey together to find and build our relationship. We have an agreement to always try to work things out when stuff feels tough between us. Or to at least acknowledge that things feel tough between us. I’ve done my best to stop blaming her for what she didn’t or couldn’t do back then, and she’s done her best to stop blaming me for blaming her. And we’re are remarkably, unexpectedly close now.

The flip side of Mother’s Day is the joy I have at being a mother. I generally think I do a pretty good job. (Although I’m sure my kids will find something to complain about as they get older.) And my teenage daughter’s Mother’s Day gift to me was a three page plus letter that told me that I actually do an excellent job. I think I’ll frame it. (She did repeat a killer sentence – “You are an absolutely super-duper incredibly unbelievably amazing mommy” – in a set-off section so that I could cut it out and tape it to my office window where I keep all my inspiring messages, as well as love notes from her).

Today and every day I get to look at my children and relish the surge of adoration and appreciation that overcomes me. How lucky I am to have them. To mother them. To know them. I get to glance at my husband as he drives and bask in how blessed I feel to be part of, to have helped create, this family unit.

Maybe my relationship with my mom was tough at times. Maybe our situation and all we’ve been through – separately and together – can not be captured by a Hallmark card. And maybe it’s precisely that past that’s molded me into the mother I am (which again can’t be all that bad, as my daughter also posted a picture of us from when she was two on her Facebook page in celebration). And it’s precisely that past that’s driven me to appreciate what I have, to be the best mother I can be, and to take this Hallmark made-up day and make it mine.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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