Mother’s Day has always been a hard day for me. I am even beginning to tear up as I write this now. I have never been wished a Happy Mother’s Day from my daughter’s father, even while we were married. It has been hard through the years to feel the lack of appreciation or support from him. It has been hard for my daughter because she will ask him to get something for me and he has said no. It would break my heart to have Mina come to me and apologize for not having something for me for Mother’s day.
Divorce doesn’t negate the fact that the other parent exists. For the sake of the child, it is important to support the other parent’s role in his or her life. We demonstrate compassion and care when we help our kids celebrate the other parent’s birthday, holidays, or special days. The kids should be able to show their love for each parent.
One time, while Mina and I were making my present, I told Mina that I supported her relationship with her father and wanted to make sure she knew that I would always help her find that perfect gift for him. As much as I loved making my gifts with her, I said it would be nice one time to be given a gift or card. She was so thoughtful of giving to everyone else, was that same thought going towards me as well? Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the ones that are around you most. Mina looked down. Apparently, she had asked her father for help doing things for me for Mother’s day, birthday, etc. and was given reasons how that wouldn’t be possible.
I remember one time being asked if I wished Mina had a different father. It shocked me because that thought had never occurred to me. If Mina had a different dad, then Mina wouldn’t be Mina! I was doubly shocked to realize that her father did not share the same sentiment. Mina came home from her dad’s house with a mini memory journal written by his new girlfriend. In it, she, the girlfriend, recounted a time that she, Mina’s Dad and Mina played with balloons. She also quoted my ex as she recounted that memory: “I had so much fun playing with you and Mina that I wish you were Mina’s real mother.” I felt as if I had been stabbed in my heart. I stopped reading the journal aloud to Mina and collapsed to the floor in tears. Feeling that I wasn’t supported as Mina’s mother is one thing, but reading it in black and white clearly stated as fact is something I don’t wish on anyone.
How come I had this need for validation from Mina’s father? How come it bothered me so much when he would drop Mina off on Mother’s day, say goodbye, and just turn his back to me as he got into his car? What does it matter what he thinks of me? What I realized is that it came down to two separate issues: value and respect.
I knew my value as a mother, but felt little respect. Stepping out of the emotion for a moment, I realized that I was allowing him to dictate my own worth as a mother. Well, that needed to stop! A couple of years ago, he and I had an honest conversation. He told me that when we were married, he thought I was the worst mother in the whole world. That was, until he had to parent Mina on his own. Now, he understands why I parent the way I do and that he was sorry. An apology and acknowledgment helps, but the behavior is still there… nothing much as changed.
I needed to figure out another way for Mina find support. Her relationship with me was not being supported or respected while she was with her father. She wanted to do special things for me, but didn’t know who to ask: “Mama, I want to get you something nice for your special day. I counted all my money in my piggy bank. I have 150 pennies! I can get you something really nice to show you that I love you, but where can I go to find it?” I went to my parents for help. Whenever we are with them or when my mom is visiting, they take her out and help her.
It has been a hard journey to let go of the hurt, resentment, and jealousy of other moms’ experiences at Mother’s day. I see all that my partner, Alex, does with his girls to support their relationship with their mother, the effort he puts in to make a special brunch for us moms each year, and his commitment to making sure the girls and their mom have a picture taken together each year. I witness the two extremes: one father turning his back on the mother, one father supporting the children’s love for their mother.
This year, I am taking control and celebrating Mina and myself. As her mother, I am now growing into the person I am supposed to be. I have been able to tap into strength that I never thought possible because she is in my life and because I am a mother. The depth of the love between me and Mina runs deep as we support each other to stand strong, honoring each other as we move forward into the next chapter of our lives. There is no Hallmark card that can contain all that and, you know what? That’s okay.
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