On the Saturday before Mother’s Day, Dr, Jen Gunter, an ultra-feminist who wrote The Vagina Bible and The Menopause Manifesto, posted a rant to her Twitter account about how much she hates Mother’s Day as a made up holiday.
I hate Mother's Day. I just need to say that.— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) May 8, 2021
I dislike made up holidays. Being a mom is really hard and to me a "day" is and excuse to ignore all that. My own mother was awful. I lost a kid. I want people to do things for me because they love me, not because of holiday guilt.
Before I go any further, you need to know that I have a love/hate relationship with Dr. Gunter. After I published Murder on my Mind, I dug into an advance reader copy of The Menopause Manifesto. It’s an important and educational book, but it is also rife with comments about the patriarchy ruining and running everything. If you read my review on Goodreads, that will sum up how I feel about Dr. Gunter and her book.
But I digress. Back to Twitter. I made a comment (complete with typos) on Dr. Gunter’s tweet, sharing my own feelings about Mother’s Day.
My mother killed off any desire for me to celebrate Mother’s Day when a 15yo me saved babysitting money for months to buy her a stoneware dinner set (for 8) that I schlepped on the bus only to be hear on a Sunday morning that “I don’t really like these. Take them back.”— Dana Goldstein (@DanaGWrites) May 8, 2021
Over the course of the day, the comments started coming in. “I’m sorry you had to deal with that” was a popular theme. There were many stories from people who also had hateful, hurtful mothers. As I responded to every comment (that’s just who I am), I realized that I am not over the pain she caused me and I probably never will be. No one can ever truly get over the trauma of having a horrible mother.
Even when a family friend told me my mother told her that I was always destined to be a great writer, my shoulders met my ears and I ducked. I was waiting for the back half of that compliment that was typical for my mother: “too bad you’ve done nothing with that talent” or “if only you’d write something people actually want to read” or “maybe if you lost weight people would take you seriously”.
But my mother is in the mid-to-late stages of dementia, so she lacks the filters of hate, disappointment and jealousy that coloured every conversation we’ve ever had. She’s nicer to me now. She has no recollection of the kind of mother she became. I do, though.
When I said my mother killed my desire to celebrate Mother’s Day, I was referring to celebrating it with her. With my own boys, it’s a different story. I don’t expect cards or gifts on the second Sunday in May. My kids gift me every day with love and respect. Despite my shitty role model, I rose above the pain and raised two amazing humans. I don’t need a single day to celebrate our relationship. We do that EVERY DAMN DAY.
We share meaningful glances.
We eat dinner together.
We support each other through challenges and victories.
We dance in the kitchen (ok, maybe that’s just me as the boys roll their eyes).
My kids know I love them unconditionally. They know I would throw myself under a bus for them without making them pay emotionally for my choice.
My kids know what a loving mom looks and feels like.
That’s the only gift I need.