Saturday, May 7, 2011

An Old Mother's Thoughts on Mother's Day

Another Mother's Day rolls around. Time does fly when your kids leave home. I am facing the day remembering all the handmade gifts and looking at a hand print from my oldest son's kindergarten days. I am remembering the first Mother's Day that he was off to college and my younger son took me to buy a plant that I just finally after twenty-two years decided had lived a long and memorable life.

Tomorrow I look forward to dinner with the sweetest little boy in the world. I am one lucky, lucky mom and grandmother. But I know that there are mothers out there that are grieving. They wonder what their baby might have been doing for them on Mother's Day, if only. There are mothers frantic over whether their precious child will return home from wars far away. There are mothers missing their mothers. And there are mothers wondering what they did wrong because their mothers didn't treat them as they had hoped they would and mothers feeling guilty about what they didn't do for their own. There are hundreds of thousand women who will never be called mother and oh, how they long for what they think those words might mean to them.

Family times and "Hallmark" holidays are not always happy times, as the commercials would suggest. We all have perceptions that are only ours and may differ dramatically from the other players in our stories. We did the best we could and hope that they did too. Mother have a lot of guilt and regret and a lot of pain as well.

I am particularly in sympathy, empathy and solidarity with those mothers who don't know that they have safe and confidential havens where they can express their worries, doubts and fears about their mothering. I am grateful that in the twenty-first century, women may openly confide their deepest ambivalent feelings and that they can be heard and even helped, if necessary. In my day, there wasn't even a word ( now there is a diagnosis ) for post-partum depression. The best we could hope for was, " well, I thought that this was what you wanted." Or, It's just the blues and it will go away."

I have a dear and trusted colleague who has devised a short questionnaire for mothers that I'd like to share:

Do you get scared that you will never be happy again?
Are you anxious or panicky over even the "littlest things?
Do you feel that you must hide your feelings or what you may be thinking about your child?
Do you feel that your family would be better off without you?
Do you have repetitive thoughts about harm coming to your child?
Are you sad or even miserable most of the time?
Do you have trouble sleeping, whether your child is asleep or not?
Do you have trouble physically caring for your child?
Are you overwhelmed most of time?
Do you ever have thoughts about harming yourself?
Do you feel that you are failing at motherhood?
Are you sure that you are the only one who feels this way or has unusual thoughts and that other mothers do not?

The diagnosis for post-partun depression has changed. It doesn't necessarily have to become apparent in the first year of your child's life. Physicians ( your own or your child's )are very available to listen, comprehend and evaluate and treat. CALL. It even affects ten percent of the fathers in our country. But I guess that's for a Father's day blog.