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I was festering in a rather negative mood for a few weeks, unable to riddle out why. Then I checked the calendar. Ah, mother’s day, or as it should have been known in my family, martyr’s day, was fast approaching. I’ve been estranged from my mother for about 5 years or so now, no matter what I tell myself, the triggers are still there for me.

I’m a grown woman, a mother of my own child, still yearning for this mythical ideal that’s held up by the marketing companies so desperate to sell me some fat load of nonsense on what motherhood is supposed to be. I’ve got this hole in my heart, this inexplicable emptiness that I can’t really articulate. I’ve always known that something was off.

For as much as I wanted that tender, supportive and loving relationship that’s depicted on television, in movies, in commercials, and pretty much everywhere this time of year:

My experience has always felt more like this:

It’s been clear to me from a very young age that I was her possession, and never an individual. Her pet name for me was “dolly” and I imagine that in her mind, that’s exactly how she saw me. Her toy, her plaything to dress up and manipulate to her whims, but ready to be tossed aside once she’s done with me. The parenting often would invert, and I would be the one taking care of her, filling her wine glass, making sure she got to bed after she passed out on the couch, allowing her to live vicariously through my life, so that she could feel young, smart, pretty, whatever, instead of sad and empty which I think she always felt.

Now that I have my son, and ensuring that he never has any contact with her, I had hoped that I’d have more understanding of her, that maybe this was just what parenting is like. But instead, my experiences so far, have given me more reasons to rage at her rather than less. My heart is hardened when I think about how many hurtful things she did to me, the lies she told, her motivations still completely baffling except to point at her immense selfishness.

I know that I’m not the best parent in the world, but I’m a damn good one. I’m doing right by my child, and in every smile and hug and joyful moment, I know that these choices are right. It saddens me though, that I didn’t have the same experiences.