DEAR LADY A: Many of my friends have great, supportive families and I’m happy for them. But I find them to be really judgemental toward me, when it comes to things like Mother’s Day. My mother is most definitely not great or supportive. She’s always been selfish and immature, constantly been hatefilled and abusive about the fact that I’m gay and it seems like the only thing she really loves about me is that she gets to inform me every time I see her that I’m going to burn in hell for my sinful “choices”. I’m tired of pretending that Mother’s Day doesn’t have a negative connotation for me. And I’m tired of hearing my friends lecture me to the fact that I choose not to be in my mom’s life. Yes, I know “blood is thicker than water” and “you only get one mother” and “you should appreciate her while she’s still here” but I find it impossible to appreciate someone who’s cruel and homophobic toward her own child. I don’t want to celebrate Mother’s Day and I just want my friends to back off about it. They have no idea what I’ve been through with her, how much I tried, educated, begged for understanding and how much of my life I’ve sacrificed trying to appease her, so I think they should stop judging me. I know you write about sex and relationships but I thought you might have some good advice, or at least be willing to print my side of it.
– Mother’s Day Malaise
DEAR MDM: Of course I’ll print your side of the story. Mother’s Day malaise is not uncommon, sweetie. It’s just not well-represented in the media. Probably because it’s hard to sell a greeting card or an ice cream cake that reads: “Just get through this day as best you can, grown-up child of a shitty, unsupportive parent! Tomorrow, you’ll feel better about your wonderful life!” Not that many of us wouldn’t still appreciate the sentiment.
When it comes to your friends, it’s important to remember they nag and cajole you with the best of intentions. They care about you and sincerely do not want to see you one day regret your choice to be absent from your mother’s life (If you made the decision in haste or in anger, you most likely will one day regret it, so be truthful with yourself about your motivation to cut her off). Because in their reality, a mom is someone who will ultimately do the right thing for her kids, or at least someone who will have done more good than harm for her child at the end of the day. Your friends probably have no idea about the actual number of times you’ve tried to heal your relationship with your mother, the lengths you’ve gone, the compromises you’ve made that made you feel dirty inside because to you they felt like lies. How could they know what you’ve been through, when they haven’t faced it with their own “thicker than water” blood relatives? You’re right to be happy for your friends with the good fortune of having great, supportive families. But you’re also right to stand up for yourself, your choices and your reality.
I feel strongly that you’re a thoughtful, earnest person who has come to this difficult decision wisely, with much contemplation and emotional integrity, so I’m going tell you a secret that you already know but need to hear anyway: You do not need your mother’s validation to be OK. You are worth love, support, loyalty and kindness just as you are. And if your mother cannot see what you’re worth, that is her loss and her personal weakness, not yours.
Do not wish your mother ill will or hate her. Instead try to feel compassion for a woman who is so fucked up from own her sad history, that she never learned how to properly feel love, which, if you stop to reflect, is a really sad way to exist.
Do not think that means you have to waste another day begging for approval that she is unwilling to give.
Do allow for the possibility that she may one day grow up, get help and earn back your trust.
Do not hold your breath waiting for that day.
Do not expect your friends to understand your position. Meet their misunderstanding with patience and humor, but do not let them push you around. And if you have to hunker down alone this weekend with your own personal Anti-Mother’s Day-themed ice cream cake and a “Mommie Dearest” marathon, so be it! You are not alone, darling. I’ve got my own, “Thanks, but I prefer my rainbow family” cake thawing as we speak.