I’d like to wish all my friends who are mothers a wonderful weekend. May it be everything you want and more.
I’d also like to extend warm thoughts toward my friends whose mothers are no longer with us or mothers who have lost a child. This weekend can be hard, and I wish you peace in celebrating their memory.
Finally, I’d like to express a measure of solidarity with my friends who, like me, look upon this weekend as an annual reminder of our abusive or toxic mothers. Our society depicts motherhood with a double-edged sword: mothers are supposed to be perfect (which is a ridiculous standard for anyone), and children, no matter their circumstances, are supposed to be grateful (also ridiculous).
This erasure of abuse because the abuser happens to be a mother never ceases to be stressful and traumatic. I was raped for ten years by my mother in addition to severe emotional abuse, and not a day goes by that I am not affected by what happened to me as a child.
I say this so bluntly because our stories — the stories of children who had toxic mothers — seem to get minimized or ignored or dismissed because it makes others uncomfortable to imagine their own mothers inflicting such abuse. The result is a silencing of our experience.
There are no P&G commercials for us. No maternal presence (or truly maternal) at graduations and weddings and births. No fond memories of scraped knees and elbow macaroni art and hilarious stories about getting “caught by Mom” doing something stupid and punished for it. For many of us, there was no one to call when things got rough. We just sucked it up and moved on. It was something we learned as children.
And on those occasions I am told “Your mother must be so proud of you”, I am forced to bite my tongue and say “thank you” because I know they mean no harm in unknowingly uttering one of the most harmful sentences I’ve ever heard.
So, to those of you who go through this every year, please know that I’m right there with you. You are loved and worthy and wholly deserving of a parent. You are not crazy. You have every right to feel anger and resentment, and I only hope you find a way to channel it into something constructive in whatever form that may be.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Charles Clymer is an Army Veteran and blogger based out of Washington, D.C., where they live with their girlfriend and two cats. They have been published in several places and quoted by Time, Newsweek, The Guardian, and numerous other publications. You can follow them on Twitter here.