Mother’s Day. Despite the commercial cheesiness; most mothers look forward to ‘their’ day. If their child is in grade school, Mums can look forward to macaroni necklaces and homemade cards shiny with glitter and glue.
I know that I certainly did. I was so pleased with my daughter Victoria’s homemade presents that even I; who bow to the Spare Queen; have kept one Mother’s Day gift that Victoria made out of popsicle sticks. It is raft with a heart shaped flag with the letters M and V written on the heart . The raft lies on the top of my dresser drawer, along with my dog Gucci’s ashes and a tiny statue of Mary that is supposed to be filled with sacred water of Lourdes that I had bought from The National Enquirer over twenty years ago. The water has long dried up but I keep it still, because my belief in the redemptive powers of Mary is stronger than my more than niggling doubt that this Mary was actually made with tap water in the someone’s basement in Cincinnati.
As Victoria got older there was no one to help her buy a present for me; no willing girlfriend to pick up the gift slack; certainly not my own mother who consistently used this day for her divisive ways. It would have been easy for my mother to help Victoria buy something special for me; but in my mother’s mind, the only mother that needed gifting was her. Perhaps a different child would have persevered and made a homemade card; but I imagine that for Victoria the lack of familial support was so painful she just decided to not participate at all.
The year Victoria turned 10 I met the charismatic Jane. Victoria; who was nonplussed at best that I was gay; told me how thrilled she was that I was a lesbian because now Jane was in her life. Jane was brash and bold and larger than life. She helped Victoria to plan really wonderful Mother’s Day brunch’s that made my heart sing. ( In case you are wondering my heart sang Bach Concerto for 2 Violins, my absolute favourite piece of music.)
Sadly our years with Jane came to an abrupt end one cold Christmas Eve; and we were back to just us two; once again. Each subsequent Mother’s Day I led with my fear. I would start to harass Victoria, lightly at first and then as the day got closer; more and more intensely.
” Victoria, it’s Mother’s Day next week , what are you doing for me?
“Victoria, it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow!! What are we doing? Should I make a reservation at The Four Seasons? ”
As you can see, I would always be driving the machine. Exhausting work, but I couldn’t pry myself from the wheel.
Of course I blame myself for being not a good enough mother for Victoria, for why else couldn’t she show up for me on my day ? I think back on our years together and I rest on a meeting we had with her art therapist. Victoria was ten years old at the time and was having a particularly difficult time at school so I decided to take her to an art therapist where she could feel free to share her feelings in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Up until this meeting I was under the impression that things were pretty great between my daughter and myself; so it was a huge shock when Victoria told me during a family therapy session, that she did not like me. She did not like how I dressed or what I did for a living or anything about me. I really did not know what to do with that information. So I buried it in the dessert along with my pain at not having a partner to share this information with and to work through this together as a family.
I did the only thing that was available to me at the time. I tried harder to please; and in trying so hard to make my daughter happy; I lost my sense of self as I was so desperate to have her love me. I know that this just made Victoria recoil even more, but I did not know what else to do. I felt all alone and without agency. I did not have any family to turn to for help and guidance.
I decided to return to therapy myself, for myself. I found out that I needed to give Victoria the space she needed to just be. I began to nurture my own abandoned inner child, and spoke to her every day.( I still do.) I promised myself that I would breathe through my fear and let myself feel the pain of giving up my dream of Victoria and I sipping tea and watching Young and Restless and be in reality.
Guess what? Reality sucks. But the alternative sucks way more. So much more.
Last week was not a fun week for me, hoping that Victoria would finally write or phone to ask me out for brunch. As the week came to a close I became more and more panicked , but held on tight to my resolve to do the right thing; for Victoria and for myself.
Finally Sunday morning arrived with no fanfare and to distract myself I took my puppy Lucille to the beach. Watching Lucille play in the water was just the tonic needed. The bracing wind seemed to lift my panic away and I felt; if not completely calm; then at least not crazed.
As Lucille and I walked back to my car, I heard a ping. It was a text from Victoria.
Happy Mother’s Day. I love you lots! ❤
Baby steps. Baby steps.