On What A Mother Means

As I write this, I am lying in bed — trying to restore myself after ten days on the road to promote Hourglass, with many more days of travel coming up.  It’s Mother’s Day — a day that arouses so many feelings in so many of us — and as I was blearily scrolling through my Instagram and Facebook feeds this morning, looking at images of my friends with their mothers, my friends with their children, I was struck by the intensity of the day — even though it’s a manufactured “Hallmark Holiday,” it makes us think.  It makes me think.  About being a mother, yes. And also about having a mother. Having had a mother. Next month she will have been gone for fifteen years. 

Being a mother to my amazing, beautiful son is profoundly uncomplicated. It is pure love, pure unconditional love. He is my light and he has my heart. Later today, my husband and I will go hear his band play, and then take him and some of his friends out to dinner.  We’ll hug a lot. We’ll say “I love you” a lot.  We’ll laugh a lot.  I will look at him across the dinner table and feel myself exploding with pride. 

Having a mother was not so easy or uncomplicated.  My mother was beautiful and tempestuous.  She seethed with a constant rage, like a bubbling cauldron threatening to spill over at any moment.  She loved me but she also hated me, and I could feel that hate — that sense that I had taken something valuable and essential from her by my very existence.  She competed with me and was envious of me.  She certainly did not want me to surpass her.  As I write these words I want to erase them — to erase the ugliness of them — but I can’t because they’re the truth, and digging for that truth is what has saved me.

Still, on this day, I mourn her.  I mourn what never was, what couldn’t be, and the waste of it all.  We’re here for such a brief time.  We can reach toward each other or away from each other.  We can fill our hearts with kindness or with bile.  Some of it is a choice and some of it isn’t.  But on this day — on every day, but this one in particular — I want to wish something for all of us, whether we’re motherless, mothers ourselves, or would prefer not to think about any of this mother stuff.  Let’s try to be good to each other, and be good to ourselves.  This go-round is what we’ve got.  My mother missed it.  I’m trying like hell not to.

 

  • “We’re here for such a brief time. We can reach toward each other or away from each other.”

    For these, and all of your words, thank you. ❤️

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Katie! xo

  • Sharon Van Epps

    Another great post, Dani. Thank you.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Sharon! xo

  • Beautiful, Dani. I too was blogging about this hard stuff today. it’s complicated and it isn’t easy. Enjoy this Hallmark day.

    • Danishapiro

      You too, Sheila!

  • Lois Taylor

    Dani, Thank you for this post. You have the ability to say what I feel. Hope all is well in God’s country.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Lois! All is lovely here. Feeling very happy to be home for even a brief spell.

  • “She seethed with a constant rage, like a bubbling cauldron threatening to spill over at any moment. She loved me but she also hated me, and I could feel that hate — that sense that I had taken something valuable and essential from her by my very existence.”

    Words and truth that rock even the most still of souls. Truth that bites. It’s the only way to share and I love this post. Thank you, thank you and Happy Mother’s Day to you, Dani. You’re a bright sun who loves and cares more deeply than most.

    xoxo
    Licia

    • Danishapiro

      xoxo Licia!!

  • Pat Shevlin

    Your words; my thoughts. Thank you. I remember the difficulty in choosing that Hallmark card year after year, searching for words that were honest. She is dead four years so I have been freed from that tortuous assignment – to be honest with her.
    I also still have your “Mommie Dearest” essay when it appeared in a magazine years ago because it so paralleled my life following my father’s death, striking despite our different upbringing.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Pat.

  • Stacy Walsh

    Thank you for this post. I have a complicated, strained relationship with my mother. A few years ago I became aware of the term “unmothered.” It was an Aha! moment, a sad one, but nonetheless I felt less alone. My kids are 7 and 6 and my mother has yet to say, “Happy Mother’s Day” to me. It hurts. I love my kids with all my heart, but Mother’s Day is always full of ups and downs for me. Sending you love and peace on this day – it sounds like you are an amazing mother to your son – and he will remember that, always.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Stacy. And: Happy Mother’s Day !!

  • Joanna Heller

    Thanks for putting this into words-your forte for sure! My mother missed alot of this go round, too.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks for writing, Joanna.

  • ayala

    I hope you had a great Mother’s Day. xox

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Ayala. I really did! And the same to you. xo

  • DB Gottesman

    This is so beautifully profound. Thank you, Dani.

    • Danishapiro

      You’re welcome!

  • Lars Nielsen

    Thanks, Dani, for sharing.

    Lars Nielsen

    • Danishapiro

      :)))

  • Ashley Hodge

    Thank you Dani! Happy Mother’s Day to you! Your post meant the world to me!
    The love I have for my daughter is uncomplicated but with my mother it is totally different. I needed this right now!

    “She loved me but she also hated me, and I could feel that hate”