by Jennifer on May 5, 2011

Like my friend Emily who writes about her own poignant reasons here (go, read, I’ll wait), I won’t be posting a photo of my mother on Facebook this week, as so many of my friends have done in honor of Mother’s Day.

It’s a complicated holiday for me, as it always, ever was. If you don’t know the story of the women who shaped my early years, you can find some essential parts of it here.

As I watched the photos appear, I couldn’t help noting that some of the mothers whose photos my friends and family have posted are of women who were kind to me when I was a child. A favorite aunt, especially so. (To see her face, though she is gone now and I miss her deeply, is a sweet reminder of that.) So even though there’s an ache, an empty room, in my early years where a good enough mother should have been, it’s not altogether unpleasant to watch as others post their photos. A lovely gesture, where it’s deserved.

And there’s this: I’ve been lucky (so very), since my college years, to have someone in my life who has been a wonderful, loving mother and cheerleader to me. She makes up for that early lack, and I’m so grateful for her (and for her husband, who is another father to me).

But if I posted the face of the mother who gave birth to me, or the stepmother who followed soon after, a picture would be just a picture. A face smiling for the camera, a curtain across the stage. The play going on, unseen, behind it.

And a thousand words, not even close to enough.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Brenda May 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I shed a couple of tears over this. Would you believe that Mother’s Day is complicated for me, too? The reasons are completely different, but it IS complicated.

Thank you for the sweet words in tribute to my mother.

I’m glad you have your “real mother” who has been there for you since college. And you will be that kind of mother to your daughter. When she’s grown up, she’ll look at you with fondness and affection. She’ll want to honor you because she’ll have reason to.

Neil May 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Mother and Mothering are not the same word. What are you doing for your mother’s day, since you have succeeded in both?

Lennie May 5, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Great post. So timely and so poignant. Mother’s Day is extremely complicated for me as well. Never having had a mother in my life and knowing almost nothing about the one I do (did? I don’t know) have, combined with being estranged from my paternal grandmother (NOT my choice, my father’s) until only a few years before she died, this was a holiday that was not really on my radar at all until I got married, when suddenly I had a mother-in-law. Luckily for me, that’s been a good relationship. And then of course I became a mother myself, and that brought a whole new perspective to the “holiday”. It’s comforting, truly, to know that there are many of us who experience deeper emotions about this day than most others, for whom it seems to be a day of rushed restaurant dinners and potted flowers. (No disrespect to restaurants or flowers intended.) I’ve seen these pictures going up on Facebook but I too will not be participating.

Jenn @ Juggling Life May 5, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I just started seeing the pictures today–yes, I can see the complicated emotions.

yogurt May 6, 2011 at 2:41 am

Yes, complicated. For so many who don’t or aren’t able to say.

That aside, Happy Mother’s Day to YOU.

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios May 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

I haven’t posted a photo of my mother either, and this post made me articulate why. It’s not because our relationship was troubled or any more complicated than a “normal” mother-daughter dynamic, but simply because I spent years staking my claim in the world and that claim has been primarily visible online. I can’t give it up to “honor” my mother. I can’t “disappear” and feel this is a good thing. I honor her by being myself, her daughter, not her clone.

tysdaddy May 6, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Have I ever told you? I love the new look around here . . .

Rachel May 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Well…i have to laugh because i just found this page by typing on google “where to write unpleasant words about my mother” and so i am here.
…i read the comments and i am also not posting a picture of my mother on Facebook & seeing all the mothers & daughters out & about in public always makes me sigh. I wish i had any real relationship with my mother but i never really did & probably never will.
Instead of on FB, let me say some words to my MoM here…where i don’t need a warning label: Reality Is not always pleasant ~
MoM, i guess you deserve a text for Mothers Day…because against medical advice you chose not to abort me…because you have cooked great dinners for me when you were not eating…because you gave me a cold cloth for my head when i had a fever…because for my 16th birthday you brought me to the “Le Mis”play…and because you usually leave a voicemail singing Happy Birthday on my birthday ~ <<<< Thank you!
So Many i know had it worse & better….but my MoM Is alive & has always been “in” my life but never had a care to be apart of it ~ WTF

Rachel May 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Damn….part of that was cut out ~ oh well…I’m 27 now & ill be a great mom by learning how Not to be from mine!

Rachel May 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm


flutter May 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm

You are an amazing person, friend, mother. You make the world a better place, simply because you’re in it.

Rest today, be kind to you.

Daryl May 9, 2011 at 11:21 am

Despite or in-spite of them you are a fabulous mother .. and I hope your Mother’s Day was special ..

Slow Panic May 10, 2011 at 11:25 am

not my fav holiday — although my kids do make it wonderful

JCK (Motherscribe) May 15, 2011 at 12:28 am

Yes, I understand. I miss your writing. And wonder how you are. You have such a gift, and we’ve been so lucky to indulge in it. Sending hugs.

Cookie May 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I too didn’t do or post anything special for mother’s day. Is it bad that I feel the whole holiday makes it seem like an obligation or a chore to appreciate the “mother” in our lives?

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