Huffpost Women
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Penney Berryman Headshot

Relationship Status with Mom: It's Complicated

Posted: Updated:

Mother's Day bombards us with sentiments, gifts and cards to express the beauty, grace and general walk-on-water skills of Mom on her special day. No ordinary present will suffice. We're talking about The Woman Who Gave You Life. The woman who sacrificed her figure, her potential 401k earnings and hours of sleep to wipe your snotty nose and listen to your life crises. Nothing you buy can sufficiently express your love -- but you damn well better try.

Take in a few television ads or walk past any store and you might feel like a pariah. Obviously, everyone else enjoyed June Cleaver as the matriarch, with a dash of Martha Stewart handiwork and the manners of Emily Post. Maybe your mom IS a superwoman of family-work-life balance with dinner on the table and smiles for everyone.

More likely, however, you love your Mom... and you find her alternatively infuriating and embarrassing, irreplaceable and overly dramatic, irksome and endearing. As far as I know, Hallmark hasn't yet created a line of cards expressing familial disharmony.

Which brings us to the delicate dilemma of selecting the perfect Mother's Day Card. You find yourself facing a wall of paper exploding with pastel pink flowers and swirly cursive poems, searching desperately for a card that reflects one iota of the complicated relationship you have with this woman, your mum. (Don't even get me started on the abysmally insufficent options for stepmoms). Sure, you could opt for a politically correct "Mom of the Year" card, but that would be a lie. Moms don't like lies.

If you search long enough, you may locate a humorous card reminiscing on your diaper days and comparing your love for her to your affinity for bacon or cats. She'll smile when she reads it, because you know how to keep it light with a twinge of sarcasm. Everyone appreciates a comedian -- my mom taught me that.

But what about a card for those of us whose mothers are not yet deified? Whose mothers provided sufficient food and clothing -- along with fodder for years of therapy? Try one of these, which are not available in your grocer's aisle:

1. A card that offers truth without syrupy sweet sentiment. Put plainly, she is one crazy mother.

2. A card that offers more modest reasons to be proud of you: You weren't a teen parent, and you didn't rob a bank. Yay!

3. A card that suggests regardless of any questionable parenting tactics, you turned out awesome. She should be grateful.

4. A card that cuts to the chase: She could have been worse.

5. A card that highlights the effort you made to find it -- and the issues you have with her.

This year, I'm opting for a classic, no frills sentiment in my card: "Happy Mother's Day." I think my mom will approve. After all, she taught me that if you can't say something nice, it's better to not say anything at all.