The days we celebrate our parents change as time rolls along.
In a perfect family, there are people you share DNA with, none or some siblings, and a complete muddle of the days celebrating parents, complete with burnt breakfast in bed, flowers picked from your favorite plant, and artwork where you have to “guess” what has been drawn in your honor.
Adopted? Even better. You get fussed over just as much as you fuss over them. What an absolute joy to have worked so hard to have a child and as a result become a parent?
Single parent? You get to enjoy everything the “perfect” family has, but there is no one to help burn the toast while you stay in bed. Many single parents celebrate both Mother’s and Father’s Days as they cover both roles.
Grandparent raising a child (or children)? You get another generation of love and laughter — quite possibly more deserved than the first time around.
These examples are the joyous side of the holiday. As with everything, there is another side to the celebrations.
A family that looks perfect to the outside world may exist in a home with little or no love. You may not want to celebrate your emotionally or physically absent parents. Even worse, you may not want to celebrate the abusive ones. Mom’s a narcissist? It’s difficult to celebrate her as you know that nothing you do will be good enough. In fact, teaching you that you’ll never be good enough is the worst type of parenting — yet many are often forced to celebrate this, or keep trying to make things right, even as it breaks their own heart.
Parents die. You may lose a parent as a young adult, or you may lose a parent after a long life well lived. In either case, you can no longer fix anything between you. You can mourn what could have been, or long for what once was — but there are no parents to celebrate. Somehow flowers on a grave are never the same.
You may be a parent who has lost a child. Mother’s and Father’s Days are especially difficult in this case — even if you didn’t celebrate when your child was alive. If you have other children, let them celebrate you and don’t make your parenthood all about the one who is no longer with you.