"What Do You Do On Mother's Day?"

"What Do You Do On Mother's Day?"

I absolutely, with every fiber of my being, do not want to be alone.
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Recently I had a friend look at me and very innocently ask, “What do you do on Mother’s Day?”

Knowing that they absolutely meant it in the least hurtful, offensive, and most genuine way; I took a deep breath and I said “I go to the cemetery.”

Trying to keep the conversation short, sweet, and unemotional, I elaborated a little further to say that I’d probably pick up some flowers, and my siblings, so that I didn’t make the trip alone. But the further I thought into it, I really wondered…what should I be doing on Mother’s Day?

My immediate thought is that in the worst way, I want to be completely and totally alone. Not only because I know that I personally get very bitter, but also because for weeks leading up to this day there have been multitudes of advertisements about pampering the most important woman in your life…so every post, picture, flower, card, and song feels like the entire world is collapsing on top of my chest. The immense weight of Mother’s Day on someone whose mother is no longer in their life is a pain that I can only pray someone doesn’t have to experience. Sometimes daily life is too much to handle, never mind an entire day that is dedicated to spending it pampering and worshiping the ground that she walks on. Hell, I’ve been on a “Say Yes to the Dress” kick lately that has the power to break me down to a whimpering, blubbering, sobbing mess at any given point in time.

My next thought is that I absolutely, with every fiber of my being, do not want to be alone. On one hand I just want to be held, I want to cry, I want to ask why, and spend a decent amount of time loathing the fact that this life was chosen for me. On the other, I want to be distracted - I want to celebrate the mothers in my life that I know are the very reason for the existence of the people I love. I want to celebrate the women they are, the people they made, and their unwavering devotion to not only their families…but also to me.

You see, I’m a firm believer that when someone’s mother dies there is a very defined “before” and there is a completely different “after.” How you choose to deal with the “after,” is a task all your own. In the “before” I loved Mother’s Day; I loved going out and getting all of my favorite, strong, independent, mommas flowers, I loved seeing their faces light up, I loved being able to cook for my mom, paint her nails, and make her feel great about herself. I loved seeing my best friend’s mom and my god-mother gleam when I brought over their bouquets of flowers. In the “after” the sheer thought of walking into a florist, a grocery store, or even a Walmart over the next couple weeks makes me a little queasy. This year we approach the third Mother’s Day without my mother, and it will be the first one that I’ll be trying to half-participate in. Not because I feel like I’m obligated to after hiding from it, but because I want to. I want to be able to let these ladies know that their hard work is recognized not only on this day, but every day.

So, to anyone who wonders “What do you do on Mother’s Day?” - My answer is: Cemetery, and anything after that depends on how confident I’m feeling in my mental and emotional stability. But yes, I will still probably post a photo collage that will make you feel slightly uncomfortable.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to communicate with your mother whenever you want, remember to let them know you appreciate them this day, and every day.

Lastly, to anyone reading this who is in the “after,” Happy Mother’s Day to you, and to your momma. I know that you miss her just as much as I miss mine, too.

Cover Image Credit: Meghan DeLuca

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Blocking Toxic Family Members Can Be Just What You Needed

It isn't an easy choice but it can be the most rewarding.

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I haven't written for the Odyssey in quite some time due to this large issue in my life that I feel some people may also need to hear. Watching your parents go through a divorce can be difficult in itself, but what about having to remove one of your parents from your life at the same time? It's something I don't think many people could imagine doing. However, sometimes you are forced into the position between choosing what is best for your mental health or what is expected of you. For me, I realized that I needed to put myself first.

I realized that I am my own person. How I present myself and how I act and what I choose to believe in is how the world perceives me. I was faced with a parent who did not let me be who I am. The way I thought had to be in line with theirs. What I openly spoke about had to be in line with that parent's thoughts. This also, in turn, meant I had to revolve how I was perceived to the world around that parent's family. I had to abide by these societal norms and do what someone else expected of me. I realized that was ludicrous.

This parent was also abusive. They were toxic and manipulative and I could not stand idly by and just take that from them while also trying to become an independent young adult. I was forced to sit and watch one of my parents transform into someone I didn't recognize anymore. I had to watch them ignore any kind of reality checks and continue to feign innocence. I watched one of my parents mentally manipulate people I once called family into believing lies. I kept my head down and shut my mouth and kept taking the abuse. Now I'm at a point where I can confidently say that I am no longer afraid.

I was forced to cut ties with a parent that raised me, cared for me, attended school functions, fixed toys, bought me my first phone. I was forced to chuck out priceless memories for my own sanity. I could not sit idly by and allow myself to endure one more second of lies or abuse. I had to stand up for myself for once in my life and I blocked most of my family. I blocked cousins, aunts, uncles, and godparents. I changed my phone number that I had since 6th grade. I gave no warning and disappeared from my family's lives. Do I have regrets? No. I would do it again if I had to because I am so much stronger than sitting there and taking it.

I will have one less parent at my college graduation, which I am fighting so hard to achieve. I will have one less parent at my wedding. My future children will have one less grandparent. I mope in these thoughts but then I have to remember the other side of things. I will not have an unsupportive parent at my graduation and instead will have those that were there every step of the way. I will lack someone who was toxic at my wedding. My future children will never have to face the same abusive, toxic situations that my parent put me through. It was a difficult decision to make but one that I know in my heart is worthwhile.

Cutting a family member out of your life is difficult enough but cutting a parent is unimaginable. However, no one deserves to go through abusive situations. It shouldn't matter who the person is; if someone is treating you less than you deserve to be treated, they have no use being in your life. You should always be your first priority. You should never have to endure something for the sake of others. I am here to tell you that you are more than that and that cutting out a family member could actually be the best thing for you, even if it's incredibly difficult. I did it and I'm still here. It made me realize who my real family was, and there will never be enough thank you's in the world to show my mother just how much I appreciate her.

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