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When It Hurts to Say, “Happy Mothers Day”

mothers day

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Mothers Day is always a rough holiday for me. I know I can't be the only one.

Some take issue with it because their mothers are gone; others take issue because they have tried with all of their might to become mothers, but, for whatever reason, it just has not happened. Still others just didn't have a mother — or had one that wasn't exactly loving.

In my case, it is not quite that simple. (Is it ever?)

The iris: my mom's favorite flower. (Image from

The iris: my mom's favorite flower. (Image from

My mother was a great woman, but she passed away several weeks after my seventeenth birthday. It was January of my senior year of high school — over sixteen years ago. I was right at that age when I was beginning to realize that she was a real human being & not just “that bitch that was here to ruin my life.”

Don't pretend like there wasn't some point in your childhood when you might have thought the same thing about one or both of your parents. For most, it happens in their teen years. But, I digress.

I had a rough time dealing with mom's death, but, somehow, I still graduated high school that June. College wasn't so grand, as I had a hardship withdrawal shortly into the fall quarter & it's been rough going in that department until recently.

Anyway, each year, the anniversary of her death in January, her birthday in February, then, of course, Mothers Day in May bring with it a flood of feelings. (Lets not even mention the holidays right now.) There is a dark cloud of varying shades of gray that looms over me any given year. Some are better than others, but it is there. I question if it will ever leave.

It is for this reason, which I am fairly vocal about, that most people think the majority of my sadness comes from on Mothers Day. Truth be told, though, it is only a very small part of why I feel the way I do.

One of my favorite pictures of my mother; she just happens to be holding me. ;)

One of my favorite pictures of my mother; she just happens to be holding me. 😉

I have two beautiful sons. The oldest turned 13-years-old this year; the youngest turned ten. They are blessings & I am so incredibly proud of each of them. BUT, neither of them live with me & it pains me to different extents to even say so.

It started with my oldest. I was only 19-years-old when I got pregnant with him. I was in a committed relationship with his father, who is a good man. But it was only two years after losing my mother. What does a young girl want & need when she is experiencing her first pregnancy? Her mom. She wants to be able to call her up or go for a visit. She wants to be reassured that what she is experiencing is normal — or at least acceptable. She craves a certain amount of maternal attention & affection that confirms that she has what it takes to be a good mom too.

Don't get me wrong. It is not necessary to have that maternal relationship in the midst of a pregnancy (particularly when you're not fully grown yourself). . . but it sure is natural to long for it. I was thoroughly depressed throughout my pregnancy, despite my excitement at the life growing inside me. When David was born, I was so scared, but incredibly in love with this little human being. It was the most amazing thing. I became a mom in February of 2002.

Just over a year later, it became increasingly apparent that David's father & I did not make a good couple. Somehow, we (arguably) brought out the worst in each other. (It certainly wasn't the best we were bringing out!) We chose to live separately & I went back to work. Long story, short, I got laid off from my new job & was about to get evicted from my little apartment. Our son, who lived with me at the time, was not even two-years-old yet. His father still lived in the same duplex we all lived in as a family since before David was born. (My son's father's parents put the deposit down on the rental & paid our first month's rent for us, so it made sense that he was the one to stay.)

I was faced with the prospect of living out of my mini van for a while. I could not see taking my toddler with me into that kind of life when he had a willing & able father to care for him. (It was a joke in my family I that I could choose good men as fathers, but sucked at choosing a suitable partner for myself. . . But more on that in a bit, I guess.)

That is what led to one of the most difficult decisions in my life. I asked my son's father to take him for a few months until I could get on my feet. . . It was devastating. . . even more so when “a few months” turned into nearly a year. By then, David was nearly three-years-old & had lived well over half his life in the same house & with his father. On top of it all, I found myself pregnant again, but single this time. PLUS, David's father had long since found himself in a new relationship (with the woman with whom he is now married).

I could not, in good conscience, put up a fight to take my son back. It had been too long — & I had been down a rough road during that year. I saw David every other weekend or so, but somewhere along the line it tapered off. (There are many reasons for that; I won't go into them all now.)

Fast-forward several months & my Little RJ was born. His dad is a good dad too, but we split just before we knew I was pregnant. It didn't seem right to get back together just because we were going to be pregnant; it is better for a child to have the possibility of seeing two good relationships as a role-model, rather than only one that we knew wasn't right. Get my drift?

David & Riley. 8 years ago.

David & Riley. 8 years ago.

Little RJ's dad & I have always done well at communicating with one another. . . It has not always been roses, but we do well, for the sake of our kid, ya know? So, when Little RJ turned three-years-old & was regressing in his potty-training, we made the decision to swap every week, rather than having him only go to his dad's every other weekend. We figured, a little extra time with dad & grandpa “showing him how it's done”  would be worth a week on, week off arrangement for custody. . . & it worked well for quite a while.

Meanwhile, I had a pretty good job & health insurance for myself & Little RJ. . . But Little RJ's severe asthma & eczema & recurring ear infections as an infant started to add up financially. Twenty-percent of the bill is still quite a chunk of cash — & we couldn't keep up. A bunch of bills went to collections, I lost my job, was in a bad relationship (I call him THE Asshole) & wound up on my sister's couch & on unemployment for a couple of months. Just a couple of months.

By the time I got a job & moved again, I got hit with a garnishment on my wages for several thousand dollars that I had taken in unemployment. Apparently, I missed a notice that was asking me to go in to show evidence of my job hunt. They were making me pay back every cent. That, combined with the over-abundance of medical bills in collections, I could no longer afford to pay my rent. It was either my rent or my portion of the child care payments I made to Little RJ's father. What would you do? (I'd imagine it'd be hard to say, unless you've found yourself in the same situation, eh?)

My roommate & I moved the lease from our apartment into only my name, then we moved out, breaking the lease. A broken lease was better to have than an eviction when it comes to future rental prospects. Unfortunate, but true. I negotiated with Little RJ's dad to take him full-time &, for the second time in my life, I found myself living out of my vehicle. This time, it lasted nearly a year-&-a-half. . . &, once again, by the time that period was over, it wasn't right to go back & demand my son back. He was being well cared for &, at least this time, there weren't any imposed restrictions on my seeing him whenever I could, in nearly any capacity I could arrange.

As it stands now, I live in a completely different state than my sons. I rarely get to see David — I barely know him any more — & I get to see Little RJ as often as I can fly him down to see us. I love them both with every fiber of my being. . . but Mothers Day is also a very real reminder of my failures as a mom.

Don't get me wrong; I firmly believe that, in both cases, I made the right choice for the well-being of my son. Both times, it was as far from the right choice for me, but I have no doubts that I made the right choices for them. I did the best I knew how, given the circumstances. I am grateful that they each have a good man as their father & that each of them married women that love our son as if he were her own.

I am far from best friends with my sons' step-moms — in fact, I cannot stand one, just as I am sure she completely loathes me — but I am grateful they are there when I am not. . . & that they love my son. . . & that, even though neither have given birth to a child, they are each a mom too.

So, yes, Mothers Day is a rough day for me. I miss my mom. I miss my sons. . . & (even though I feel bad for admitting it & even though, overall, I am grateful someone's around) it hurts a little to say, “Happy Mothers Day” to the two women who get to be there when I am not.

See also  Crying in the Grocery Store

4 thoughts on “When It Hurts to Say, “Happy Mothers Day””


    In the end, it sounds like you’ve done your absolute best for your boys, and that’s all anyone could ever, ever ask of a GOOD MOM.

    You were under some pretty adverse circumstances, so please please please make sure you take those into consideration when you label your perceived ‘failings’ – I’m sure you did absolutely everything you could, but in each situation you made the choice that was BEST FOR YOUR SONS.


    And the reason it all hurts so much…it’s MEANT TO (which is no comfort at all) but that’s what makes broken or lost mother-child relationships so deeply, intensely and long-lastingly painful – we’re human and designed to be in relationship with others, and designed to have a core-bond with our mothers (and as mothers, with our children), and when that doesn’t happen, it’s the ‘if only’s which grow acid claws.

    I’m so sorry that this day is going to be so rough for you, but just…you’ll get through it because you have before. You’ll grieve because it’s important to, and you’ll feel all the feelings because they’re important, too, and you’ll be under the black cloud which belongs to it all.

    But you’ll come back from it, because you still have living, and mom-ing, to do.


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