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In the black community, confessing that you don’t like your mother can be akin to sacrilege.

But let’s just air this out: not everyone who decided to have and raise her child did a good job. Some didn’t even try. Others didn’t like kids and expected that to change when they had their own. It didn’t. Others still resented the unforeseen lifestyle changes motherhood wrought.

Bottom line: some mothers are just bad ones–and it stinks. But their daughters love them anyway, despite the caustic criticism, the cursing and slaps they got growing up, the intermittent absence, the addiction, the bills placed in their underaged names (thereby messing up their adult credit), the younger siblings Mom left them to raise while she was out cavorting, and the abuse they either inflicted or ignored.

It’s hard not to love your mother, even when she fails you. But disliking her is a different story, one you know cover to cover. And that intense dislike, that unresolved pain and lingering resentment, makes this time of year pretty brutal.

Everyone around you is honoring her mom and sharing fond memories, gratitude and anecdotes, while you make trips to multiple greeting card aisles, scouring the stacks for a genuine sentiment (Something like, ‘Um, thanks for having me? Happy Mother’s Day. I guess.’). Or else you’re skipping acknowledgment of this Hallmark holiday altogether. Why fake the funk?

What’s worse is when extended family decides to play mediator. (Remember: disliking Mom = akin to sacrilege.) Even with a laundry list of grievances, people expect black-mother daughter relationships to magically straighten themselves out. The daughter should, of course, be the bigger person, bound as she is by culture, and perhaps by religion, to honor her mother. Mothers are assumed to have done the best they could with what they had in emotional, mental, and financial reserve. And because of those assumptions, daughters get to hear all kinds of guilt-trippy clichés like, “Y’all need to just work it out,” and “You only get one mama,” and “She’s the reason why you’re even here!”

If you’re this daughter, allow me to say what few people bother to: your feelings are valid. Congratulations on surviving your upbringing; I know it wasn’t easy. And if Mother’s Day isn’t your bag, you don’t need anyone’s permission not to observe it. If there’s any chance that you can salvage your relationship with your mother, go slowly, set your own boundaries, and move at your own pace. No pressure, no judgment.

Do you or does anyone you know struggle with Mother’s Day, due to a complicated relationship with your mom? How do you handle it?

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