“Never let's me be
Took my life away
Hate me every day
~ Mother Love by Leon Agnew
Mother’s Day. I considered sending a funeral wreath of roses the colour of dried blood with a hand written note to mourn the mother I never had, “Oh shame, you are still alive”. I didn’t. I couldn’t be bothered to find a florist and make the arrangements.
I don’t speak to you. I don’t even call you mother. We communicate through solicitors, sometimes you send an e mail but I don’t read them, Google mail has a clever mother-spam filter so unwanted missives are trashed. Without reading. You, mother are toxic, a slow painful death, like lead poisoning. You are the child of a large family, one of thirteen kids to an army father. As cold as ice and as fake as a three dollar bill. Now that my father is dead, there’s no sieve to hold back and not express for the feelings I have for you. As arrogant and impermeable as he was, we at least loved each other. At the end, I believe he knew what his failings had been and he tried to make amends for them. Not you, for you are never wrong.
It’s not even hate, which would be too important. I feel sorry for you, I can’t stand a martyr and that’s what you are, over and over again, as you nailed herself to the cross of my father’s infidelity. I thought it was in my head but recently someone sent me e mails and messages between you. He really despised you, pitied you, wanted youout of his life. You were like a vice on him. Time and time again, you would take him back and then make our lives miserable because you didn’t have the guts or the courage to leave him and you liked the fancy things he bought you, out of guilt or spite, I don’t know which. I remember one offering in particular, a two-inch wide bangle made of solid platinum studded with diamonds. It was shockingly decadent and understated pure luxury as an afterthought. There are women who do this professionally for money, they have more self respect than you, a street hooker deserves more admiration than you, what did you ever do that was right that makes you the moral arbiter of my actions and judgments and relationships?
But yours is the spirituality of self-harm. Any self-respecting woman would have thrown it at him and taken him to the cleaners. You would have deserved half of what he had, you had suffered an unquantifiable amount in humiliation and degradation. Everyone knew my father was a philanderer, he made no secret of it. You didn’t like the bangle, you said. But you didn’t give it back. It was your prize to bear or your cilice. So now you sit, pretending to mourn on his grave, empty and barren and unloved by two of your three children, my sister only soft soaps her because she gets money from Mummy Dearest.
I learned all the worst about being a woman that there is from you. About rage, violence, jealousy and that love is a vice with padlocks and chains that you use to bind people to you. I learned that sex was something shameful and not to be discussed and I learned to mistreat and hate men.
I had to unlearn everything I believed about love and relationships to learn about becoming a mother myself. And every day I fail a little more but that’s part of the process, that heart-in-your-mouth moment when you want to hold on or reach out so they don’t fall but you let them anyway. And then – there you are, to kiss the bruise better or to explain that best friends can have bad moods too. You were none of that in my life. My father wasn’t an easy man but he lived his life the way he wanted to. He should have left you decades ars ago and then he might have had a chance at a shred of happiness away from you, late in his own life but God knows he left the door wide open for you to leave.
Mother love isn’t about shaping your children and contorting their souls and twisting them up psychically in painful body-locks. Love isn’t a narcissist’s need to be reflected in the eyes of your children’s adoration, that doesn’t last forever or even for very long. I've learned the long hard way that love is about letting go but still being there, it’s a soft handshake not a fastened grip. Love at its best is worn loose and free, like a beautiful, classic silk shirt, with attention to the tiniest detail. It moves with the seasons, it shifts with you as you need it to, when you move, it isn’t cloying and needy.
So Mother, most undear, I wish you nothing on Mother’s Day. I wish it was you and not him that had died though, because he died leaving the world a better place and in peace with his children. What greater pain can there be than the abrogation of affection by your own child?
And now the ultimate delusion, that you can be a great grandma and rewrite your own crimes, sadly life doesn’t hand out the big prizes to people as damaged and crippled as you are, and karma’s a bitch baby.
Only one thing worse perhaps, my indifference.