Happy-ish Mother’s Day, Because Not All of Us Are Best Friends with Our Mom

a wilted bouquet of tulips on a desk in a small office
Image by David Sifry / CC BY

The most exhausting thing I did this past week was mailing a mother’s day card back to Maine.

I don’t have the best relationship with my mother. We are consistently disappointed with who the other is and how they act. If we were neighbors, we would shoot each other dirty looks and avoid one another. But nature is a jokester and put us in close proximity. As mother and daughter.

Talk about your high, unrealized expectations.

People often think the only way to be estranged from family is to never see them. Never talk to them. But it’s not that simple.

Instead, estrangement is an odd kind of dance. Not everyone that struggles with family members does the full amputation, the “you’re dead to me” nuclear option. I’m one of those who live in a kind of purgatory. We talk every now and then, but I find it draining and tend to limit contact.

On Tuesday morning, Skyspook was a pal and gave me a heads up about the holiday coming up. Mail takes a while to get to rural Maine, especially since my parents live next to a lake separated from civilization by several miles of a single-lane dirt road. So I had to get the card out that day for it to have any shot of arriving before Sunday.

I managed though. It’s tricky picking out a card when you don’t have the best relationship with the person you’re sending it to. A lot of them are gushy and unrealistic. Don’t really reflect the connection that actually exists.

But I found a really sparkly pretty one that said on the back that it would donate a dollar to UNICEF. And inside it had the perfect message: Happy mother’s day to a mother who is as beautiful as this card is.

Because that’s the saddest thing about my mother: She’s a looker. Always has been, always will be. But she’s completely blind to it. She only sees her flaws (and the flaws of others, which is what makes her difficult to be around). She has no idea. And it’s her insecurities that mar her life, not her appearance.

Anyway, I signed it simply. Dropped it in the mailbox. Walked on home.

It’s so very tiring to find a place where I can reach out and still have it be authentic. Our culture doesn’t have easy outlets for those who have strained relationships but keep in touch.

So if you’re in the same boat as I am, I want you to know that you’re not alone.

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