Happy m(O)ther’s Day

mom and dad in bathing suits

Sunday was Mother’s Day.

A day I’m left out of. A day millions and millions of women are left out of.

Maybe it was the gloomy grey day, or the slight hangover that hung to me like cat hair, but for whatever reason this Mother’s Day was particular hard. Instead of going downtown to play tennis in the sun, I wallowed under a blanket and ate peanut butter from the jar. I killed time watching Watch What Happens Live and surfing the net until Facebook unleashed a tidal wave of depression: the barrage of brunching moms kicked me to the kitchen junk drawer to find my unused medicinal marijuana vape pipe and text my friend MB about how to use it. I slammed my computer shut, took a few hits and climbed back into bed.

I know I am not the only woman to not have a mom or be a mom. Losing a mom (that’s her up there in the photo, with my dad), or never having a real one in the first place, is awful. As time passes sure, it gets easier. But that hole is there. And during certain times of the year, it expands and gets bigger and bigger until it practically bursts. This is one of those times.

Not having kids of my own, well, that was a choice. I remember announcing to mine in our Fremont kitchen that “I’m never having kids.” I was 22. She was pretty pissed, as I was shutting down her dream of having grandchildren from one of her two offspring. She snapped back, “That is so selfish. If I had felt the same way, you wouldn’t be here.” I stomped off in my Nike Cortez sneakers and Dolphin shorts to go run around Lake Elizabeth, undeterred.

My mom, in my childhood bedroom, around the time I broke the "no kids" news.

My mom, in my childhood bedroom, around the time I broke the “no kids” news.

Maybe I was selfish. Maybe I wanted to spend every second and every cent on me. Maybe I wanted to sleep in and go to bed late. Maybe I wanted to focus on my career. Maybe I wanted to do whatever I wanted. Maybe I wanted to be a kid, not have them.

Or maybe I was self aware. Maybe I knew then, what I know now, that I was never cut out to care for people dependent on me, when I have a hard time taking care of myself. Maybe my “maternal instinct” genes never fully formed. Maybe I was too scared to do something so permanent. Maybe, maybe, maybe…

On Mother’s day, those buckets of doubts come crashing down on me.

Did I make the biggest mistake of my life by not having kids? To build my own family? To have kids to take care of now, who’ll take care of me later? Would kids make me feel less lonely? Are kids the key to happiness? Is the grass greener in Kidville?

It’s so natural to mull, in excruciating detail, the “what ifs” of life. For me, the kid/no kid issue has always been the most mulled. But only when I’m down, like on Mother’s Day, and since my mood was clouding the issue (like the thick dark ones that suffocated the Sunset), I know, in my heart, that I’ve made the right decision.

I have a great life. I have married the man of my dreams. I have an amazing brother and cousins and an aunt whom I love very much. I have the best friends anyone could wish for. I’ve built a career that’s enabled me to work independently with a business partner whom I respect and adore. I have cats! The white picket fence! I can do a handstand! And hit a backhand!

But it was Mother’s Day, and there I was, in bed, curled up in a ball, willing the day to be over with.

So to all of you women out there who aren’t/don’t have moms (sorry, animals don’t count here), Happy Other’s Day. Maybe I’ll start a new tradition next year, and treat myself to Eggs Benedict followed by a trip to Barney’s.

And to Jslow and all of you mother’s out there, I hope you all had a very happy Mother’s Day.


2 Responses

  1. petrazimm@yahoo.com'

    I get this (although my mother is still alive, for which I am grateful). And in her defense, she never pressured me for grandchildren–in some ways, I think she’s living vicariously through me (the career, the independence). I do sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have children, but I don’t think I was cut out to be a mother. And it’s good to recognize that, rather than have kids, only to be filled with negativity about the whole enterprise.

    My mom did some amazing things (she came to live in a new COUNTRY, for pete’s sake–that takes a lot of guts!), but, given the times, settled down to marry and have kids. I’m grateful for her, of course, but I do not regret my choice to remain childfree.

    BTW, there are plenty of people in nursing homes who have children. Modern lives don’t really allow for caring for elderly family members.

    Thanks for writing this. I appreciate your candor and your thoughts.

    1. Paula

      Hi Petra:
      Thanks so much for writing. I love what you have to say and I too think my mom loved my life as an independent woman — something she so brilliantly raised me to be.

      And yes, had I had kids, in no way would I expect to have them take care of me when I was older — I used to joke with my mom that when she got old, not to look at me as the person she could ever live with — an issue I never faced as she died before that happened.

      I am blessed to have many close friends who like us, chose to not have kids. It helps to have people who can relate to our lives – and not feel alone in our decisions.

      Thanks again for taking the time to write. I really appreciate it. Have a great weekend.xoxo

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