Trying to Ignore Mothers ‘Day

Here in Australia, it is coming up to Mothers ‘Day which is on May 13th although of course in the Northern Hemisphere it is celebrated in March. It is a day that I find quite painful as so many people thank their mothers and express love and admiration for their mum. Say how close they are to their mothers and how much they are like their mothers.

Not all mothers are like that though, mine wasn’t. So, I guess that I am slightly envious and feel that my experience is not recognised. To be told that I must be mistaken by those whose mothers loved them is hurtful. And it denies my experience. To clarify, my mother was distant and disinterested, but not neglectful or intentionally cruel.

I look at the photograph of the clear-eyed girl that she was and wonder what became of her?

 

Phoebe Leather
My mother as a young girl

How did she become the woman that I remember? The one with the distant look in her eye, the one who read travel books voraciously and smoked endless cigarettes? The one who stayed in her room crying and depressed. The one who told me when I was about twelve ’I never wanted children’? The words haunt me still, they were never clarified with ‘of course now we’ve got you I’m glad’

I knew my dad loved me- by the way he’d let me stand on his feet to dance, the way he tucked me into bed at night and kiss my forehead ‘Night, night, pleasant dreams,’ and leave the door ajar so I could see the hall light.

With my parents

Children sense things, or at least I did. I used to buy her presents, bring her flowers, those wildflower posies that children pick. My drawings were for her. Once I spent my entire birthday money on a brass ornament for her.Then when I was about nine I stopped. I realised that you can’t buy love, it is, or it isn’t, you can’t make someone love you.

Not all women are cut out to be mothers, although of course, that was societies expectation. Mum was thirty-nine when I was born, their first and only child. I suspect she’d have been happier without me. Now I think that she saw me as a rival for my dad’s affections. An aunt came to stay for many months to look after me as mum took to her bed.

I envy those with a close bond with their mothers, those who say she is their best friend. My mum died when I was in my early twenties, and we had never grown close even after my father’s death. For me, Mothers’ Day is a time of sadness and regret, a time to think about what might have been and to finally to feel sorry for my mum that she was trapped in a situation that made her so unhappy.