The forgotten

“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dates all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”

So, its mother’s day again. Everyone wants to say how we should all appreciate and treasure our mothers. All around me I hear people discussing mother’s day plans and gifts; most saying how their mothers deserve an island but they can only afford -insert generic gift-, some complaining that the day is effort, some exclaiming that they forgot about it and rushing off for last-minute efforts. The most common question is always asked: “What do you have planned for mother’s day?” A casual head shake and an abrupt exit is all you will get. Hmm… let’s see. How about I stay home avoiding questions and pretending it doesn’t exist? It’s going to rain on that day. How lovely. I get to lie in bed, smoke the occasional bud during the day, drink hot chocolate and chill out. But I say none of that either. Now that might seem like a bit of a rude response to a completely rational social question but let’s review previous experiences. I say “Nothing, I don’t have a mother.” Instead of the “Sorry hey, I didn’t know” response that I inexplicably appreciate, I get probed further for answers. “So, sorry for asking, but what happened?” This is the question that I find most cringe-worthy; partly because if I wanted to tell you I would have done so already, but mostly because of the response to my actual answer. “I am estranged from my biological mother, in a bad way. Let’s leave it at that.” The polite thing to do would be to awkwardly apologize and change the subject. I did not ask for an opinion nor do I need uninformed advice. But I’ll get it anyway. Sometimes its starts with the infuriating “Oh, so she’s alive then? That’s a relief.” Usually it goes into a talk about forgiveness and how family means everything in this world topped with a few clichéd phrases like “blood is thicker than water”. I see a look of self-gratification on the speaker’s face. They’re going to sleep well tonight feeling like they’ve helped a lost child on their way to righting their life. Sometimes I simply walk away. Sometimes I automatically start to defend my decision, get cut off by an even worse response and then walk away. Sometimes I start to get angry, open my mouth, close it and walk away. I don’t owe anyone an explanation nor a background story to justify my life.

It’s quite strange how people truly forget specifically on Mother’s day that not all birth mothers deserve the title to begin with. It seems unfathomable to the vast majority that some people don’t enjoy this day neither do they want to help you choose a gift for your mom. Everyone sympathises, and rightfully so, with those who grieve for their lost mothers on this day. They support and send condolences to the posts reminding people to treasure your mother while you can. This is all well and good but there comes a time when people need to acknowledge the forgotten but substantially large group of people who have never known what a mother’s love feels like. How could you when the woman who gave birth to you is your worst nightmare? I can’t say I feel the pain of losing a mother’s love simply because I’ve never experienced that in the first place. Personally, what mother’s day means to me is having flashbacks of the cold, venomous, empty eyes that haunt my vulnerable sleeping mind. I’ve never seen even a slight glimmer of softness toward me in the eyes of my mother. In my darkest of nights I hear her voice, like a hybrid banshee-witch, reverberate through my head and my entire body screams for the relief of waking. Her eyes are all I remember of her face. In my childhood she screams at me with pure loathing in her eyes blaming me for everything that happens including that which could not possibly have been my fault. I know that she hates my father and that most of her children weren’t a choice. I ask her why does she hate me the most. I ask her to tell me what happened at my birth that caused her to dislike me immediately. Her raging black eyes calms to emptiness. She silently turns around and walks away. As a child I loved her simply because she was my mother. I watched with a broken heart as she was beaten, abused and belittled by my monstrous father. I tried to help her, tried to make her laugh in quiet moments, tried to listen and support her and give her the benefit of the doubt. I believe that there was a miniscule part of her that loved her daughters – it’s difficult to wish death upon a child that you gave birth to. Suffering, on the other hand, is something that the female children deserves.

You know, I get when people try to convince me of the true worth of a mother. I’ve received precious words of wisdom, purpose and encouragement from her. “A woman’s purpose is to have as many children as her body allows.” Thanks, mom. “If a man tells you your clothes are too tight listen to him and change. He knows better.” Swell advice, mother dear. Criticism is always a good thing when it comes from your mother, of course. “It’s not you that I don’t like, it’s your personality”, “Education was the worst thing that happened to you”, “You will never be happy because you don’t know how to submit to a man”; these are priceless corrections from a mother who knows best. She taught me never to feel proud of my achievements; “The other mothers always say that I must be so proud of you. But I’m not. I don’t feel proud of any of your achievements.” The bible says that if you spare the rod, you spoil the child. Of course she couldn’t let us be spoiled so regular beating for sins you never committed was always a routine. Any object will do; metal hangers, belts, hands, shoes, simply anything you see. Location doesn’t matter either. Associating fear with parents is necessary so that they don’t challenge your authority later. Beatings, insults, bullying your child’s looks, making your daughter hide for 6 hours under a bed fearing your anger… these are some of the beautiful moments between mother and daughter. It gets better as you get older. Being a quiet, observant child gets you into trouble. Watching and experiencing your father beat your siblings and mother into unconsciousness and disallowing his daughters from making friends makes a child inevitably draw into themselves. So my mother, of course, gently intervenes. She asks me to tell her the reasons behind why I am a ‘closed circuit’ and why I don’t speak of my problems to her. Eventually she convinces me to open up. I start saying softly that I feel like they don’t treat us right. That was all the ammunition she needed to decipher that I was a disobedient, ungrateful child comparing them to other parents. This is why I shouldn’t have friends. She always knew best for child me. She sheltered me from the evils of television and censored all reading material. If I read too much I was punished. As a girl grows into puberty she must be sheltered from the horrors of the world. She needs her mom the most at this point to never let her find out the meaning of awful words like pregnancy, period, boyfriend, etc. The list goes on and on. Mothers know that their sons are the true jewels in the family. It is always sons before daughters. They know the value of each child based on gender. They know to accuse you of liking boys and then publicly shame and punish you for actually having teenage crushes.

After growing the fuck up, a girl has got to stop forcing herself to believe the lies of family love she’s been convincing herself of for years. Finding out that your mother could not give a flying fuck about you after futilely begging her for years to put a lock on the bedroom door to save you and your sisters from the monsters lurking outside would make any girl cry herself to sleep for nights on end. My mother thinks that I deserve this. My mother thinks that all her daughters deserve this. Somehow I grew into an angry teenager, much to her disappointment. She forgave me whenever we fought and I told her how much I hated her. The things she did to me and allowed to happen to me were always for my own good. Mother knows best. Standing up to abusive parents and/or speaking your mind as a woman will get you kicked out and exiled, of course. It is a consequence that is to be expected. How could I have dared to want human rights?

I despise ignorant posts like “Behind every good kid is a great mom” or attributing incredible praise to every woman who gives birth. It is not just incorrect but insulting to those who have raised themselves to be good and kind against all odds. It is offensive to praise parents for the success of their children. Just because I seem successful does not in any way mean that ‘they must have done something right’. I’ve taught myself everything I know. I’ve protected myself and those I love.

I’ve opened up enough for today so I’m going to shut down. This post is not just for me. It is for the forgotten children. You don’t ever have to forgive. Family has to earn your love and respect. You are never obligated to celebrate or honour people who don’t deserve you, regardless of whether or not they pushed you out of their womb.  To all the boys and girls who have shitty mothers: Happy mother’s day to you. You’ve had to raise and love yourself. You’ve had to find a way to survive. You’ve had to fight the same demons every night and be your own mother. So, well done. Smoke weed and chill today. You’ve earned it.

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