Mother’s Day is a weird day for me. I’ve been estranged from my mother for over three years now, with no contact, something I don’t regret for 364 days out of the year. But every year on Mother’s Day?
It’s a weird mixture of sadness, anger and guilt. I am sad for the way our relationship disintegrated, angry at her for the reasons that it did, and guilty because I wonder how I would feel if I had no contact with my daughter a few decades from now. What takes the guilt from bad to worse is the number of people who have “helpful advice” on Mother’s Day, in the hopes that they can help me fix something that’s irreparable.
Estrangement isn’t easy for everyone to understand, which is why I believe that people have good intentions when they offer their far-from-groundbreaking nuggets of bumper sticker wisdom. On behalf of people estranged from their moms on Mother’s Day, I’ve compiled this list of things you should never say to an adult estranged child when Sunday rolls around.
1. Why don’t you just call her? I’m sure she loves/misses you!
Ooh, a psychic! Thanks for weighing in.
2. Couldn’t you just give her this ONE day?
No. Working up the courage to go no contact isn’t easy, and it can take years. Even one conversation can destroy the progress someone makes.
3. What did she do that was so bad?
None of your business. Also, saying this implies that someone needs permission to end a toxic relationship.
4. Well, whatever it is, it can’t be as bad as you remember.
Again, how do you know? If anything, people romanticize the past. Chances are, it’s worse than that person remembers, not better.
5. Maybe you were just a difficult child? Have you ever thought of that?
Yes. Every single day of every single year. Most estranged adult children will blame themselves for everything, especially being a “bad child”.
6. I’m sure she only wanted what was best for you.
Well thanks, that makes everything better. In reality, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
7. The Bible says to honor your mother and father.
Wow! Let me convert really fast so that this makes sense.
8. But she seems like such a nice lady!
Really? Tell me more.
9. Some people don’t even have mothers!/You’ll regret this when she’s gone.
Again, you have absolutely no idea if this is true. I know that I don’t regret cutting contact. In fact, I regret not doing it sooner.
10. Surely you must have SOME good memories, though!
Yes. But a trip to the ice cream parlor or a day at the park doesn’t supersede all of the bad stuff.
11. How would you feel if YOUR kid cut you off?
Horrible. Which is why I work really hard to never give her a reason to.
12. Don’t you miss her even a little?
No. I miss her a lot.
13. No one is perfect, not even mothers!
This is the worst of all. I have never, ever met an estranged adult child who cut off contact with someone that was “less than perfect”. Most of them would have settled for flawed, because it beats the hell out of abusive, addicted, and pathological. Many of us are parents ourselves now and realize that there is absolutely no way to achieve perfection. To imply that we are in a snit because our parents didn’t buy us the right things or say the right words is deeply insulting. The fact is, many people forgive their parents over and over again, only to watch the cycle repeat. It isn’t until their quality of life is completely nonexistent that they finally excise themselves completely.