My mother’s birthday happened sometime this week. I can never remember if her birthday is 8/21 or 8/23. Normally, I’d ask my family the date of her birthday but this has gone on so long I’m embarrassed to ask. Every year I send her a birthday card although we have barely spoken in two years. I want her to know I care for her and remember that she is my mother, but maintain a comfortable distance from her nastiness. Choosing the card is always difficult. Every year it takes almost an hour reading every last card in the card aisle until I find a card that fits.
What card do you buy for a mother who whipped you with the metal end of a fly swatter because you didn’t get off the phone in time? What card do you get for a woman who played no small part in manifesting your eating disorder by constantly commenting on your weight and eventually refusing to feed you? If we still spoke, she would comment on my weight now. Comment on how fat I am….I can hear her now. She’s asking where I find clothes in my size because I’m so large.
I have 5 good memories of my mother. Only 5. I try to on the positive memories but there are so few. Pink floral cards with declarations of love and friendship and close maternal bonds simply won’t do. Those cards are cloyingly sweet…inappropriately sweet…like the kind of cards I hope my step children give me when they’re grown, but definitely not something I can give to my own mother.
After almost an hour of looking and attracting the attention of several sales associates, I settled on a cheery yellow card with birds on the cover. It says “From near or far. From here to there. Happy Birthday.”