When my son was in the sixth grade, he had a girlfriend. Like most romances that take place in the sixth grade, it was short-lived… it ended when his “I want to break up” note got to her before her “I want to break up” note got to him.
In the sixth grade, that’s the way the world spins — sometimes predictable and rotating calming, sometimes spinning wildly and madly.
A few days after the “break up”, he came to me upset. The grandmother of the young girl had sent him a private message on Facebook, in it she wrote that she was disappointed in him, she expected better from him, she couldn’t believe he had broken her grand-daughters heart. As I read this message from her, that I doubt would have ever come to life had it not been for this feeling of anonymity that we get typing from our keyboards — we say things through our computers that we would never imagine saying face to face, we behave differently… the computer lends itself to an air of “make-believe”, but that’s another story for another day, as I read this message to my son, in the sixth grade, from a little girls grandmother, my blood boiled with an anger that, I believe, only erupts in a few people on a few occasions — this was my occasion.
I was angry.
I was livid.
I was ready to gnash my teeth and bear my claws.
But, I paused and looked at him, his round sixth grade boyish face, frightened and upset that this adult, who he didn’t know, was now disappointed in him. It’s easy to see confusion racing through the mind of a sixth grade boy, they don’t cloak their feelings, it’s there, in their eyes. I told him that this woman was upset and it had nothing to do with him. I told him to forward me any other messages he got from her. I told him I would take care of it. Of course, to him, this meant I was going to track this grandmother down and drop her with a quick and decisive punch to the kidneys (in my mind, this is what I did and it was spectacular) — I assured him, everything would be fine.
I sent the grandmother a reply and let her know that what she had done was not okay. I reminded her that these were sixth graders, I reminded her my son was a real person and not some imaginary being she could chastise from the safety of her keyboard — I made my point and she apologized, repeatedly.
It wasn’t Mother’s Day when this happened, it was just a day — maybe it was a Tuesday or Saturday, maybe it was January or maybe May. It was a day, a day when I was not necessarily a mother, but a caring person, a caring woman.
Mother’s Day is a time when I find myself in an emotional limbo — I don’t fit in with the daughters who are mourning the memories of their mothers, I don’t fit in with the daughters who are celebrating with their mothers. I don’t know where I belong on this continuum of mourning and happiness. I hope to fit in with all the women who provide nurturing and caring, kindness and strength, the women who listen and who respond — you don’t have to give birth to someone to care and respect and show compassion for them.
My children see me triumph and fail, they see me laugh and cry, they see me angry and compassionate — and from that they grow, we grow. Not just one day a year, but every day. I hope that my children never find confusion in Mother’s Day, that they never feel the loss or the burden of this day that comes around just once a year. Every day our battles are fought and sometimes won, every day we choose to hold someone’s heart, gently — as we spin wildly, and madly.