Twenty five years ago I graduated from George Washington University Law School on Mother’s Day weekend, and soon thereafter I immersed myself in the practice of family law in our nation’s capital. Although the first five years were relatively straight forward, the past two decades have definitely been hard juggling a challenging career and motherhood.
A year after opening my own law firm, I got divorced, which made the decision to remain self-employed as a single mother a whole lot scarier, yet somehow I persevered hoping to set a positive example for my son, who was a huge source of inspiration for me especially during COVID when we became so isolated from colleagues, family and friends.
Last year, my son launched, and unfortunately his life choices have caused a huge rift within my family, particularly my own mother, who has once again stopped talking to me because somehow I have failed to meet her expectations. What’s lost on her is that after law school I stopped letting her guilt trips get to me, and the past 20 years as a mother I have learned the beauty of giving unconditional love, which I never got from her.
Some parents model for us the behavior we want to pass on to our children, while others model for us what we don’t want to replicate in our own lives. For me it was definitely the latter, because despite years in therapy I never fully got over her hyper-critical and judgmental tendencies, or how she would ignore boundaries and dismiss my feelings. Her emotional blackmail and erratic moods drove me to the point that at age 15 I opted for boarding school and never really returned for long after that.
Until I had my own child, Mother’s Day was always difficult for me because none of those sappy cards ever applied and the desire to celebrate with my own mother was non-existent. Once I had my own little bundle of joy that all changed, and for years I looked forward to making the day special for us– at least until he hit puberty and then it became far more difficult to get him to cooperate with what he considered a fake holiday created by Hallmark.
Well, we all know teenagers can be difficult, and yet I remain hopeful that at some point my son will figure things out. In the meantime, I accept that this Mother’s Day (just like last year) it will be up to me to make the best of this day. Last year, I went to my first PGA tournament followed by a girl’s weekend in NYC. This year, I am looking forward to a spa getaway with a little golf if the weather cooperates. No matter what, a little peace and serenity is the ultimate gift.
If you find Mother’s Day challenging, know that you are not alone. Holidays are always a mixed bag, whether you are haunted by some past events or the present is tainted in some way. Try to focus on the positives– especially as an empty-nester, where you have the chance to pursue the activities you enjoy most with or without the kids, who should know that no matter what they are always in our hearts and minds.
Happy Mother’s Day!
By Regina A. DeMeo