Mother’s Day1 – Ambivalence

Do you feel ambivalence surrounding Mother's Day? Is it a sad day or a celebration?

My beloved mother died of lung cancer (never smoked a day in her life) on Mother's Day 1995. I wrote The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother, Moving Beyond Regret while she was in hospice and afterward. The story explores our not-always-satisfactory relationship and my grief.

During May I'd like to share a series of comments and poems from that book with you as we contemplate our mothers and our mothering.

Fight to the Finish
It always seemed
like a battle, a contest of sorts,
trying to win her love

Surely Love was there

Why did it have
to be wrested
from its hiding place?

In Spite of Everything
I have coped all my years
with her flaws
her negativity
her holding us at bay

I have relied all my years on her strengths
unswerving loyalty
commitment to “getting it right”
strong work ethic
unwavering faith
beauty in every endeavor

In spite of either—or both—
I have always loved her

Ambivalence
How can I hate her—

frail, delicate woman
beautiful of face and spirit
giver of my life
giving to others
facing painful death without complaint

How can I love her—

frightening me with her dying
turning my life upside down
seeming not to know or care
how much she is hurting me

(Excerpted from The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother, Moving Beyond Regret, copyright 2002 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

Comments

Beth Gainer 11-05-2012, 04:18

Great poem! The “getting it right” part really hit me. As a mom, I often wonder if I’m doing things right when it comes to raising my child. Rendered infertile from chemo, I adopted a baby girl from China. Every day is Mother’s Day for me; I tend to feel out of place on the holiday itself.

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hjelmstd 11-05-2012, 16:48

Congratulations on your baby girl. It is impossible to get it right every time. A great baseball player hits less than .400. Relax and enjoy her.

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