It's hard to avoid at this time of year: the Mother's Day slush. All those nauseating displays of cards and their sentimental twaddle. The teddy bears, the mugs, the magnets, the tea towels (because of course mums are the ones who do the dishes.) I'm surprised no-one has come up with some sloganned bog roll: thanks for wiping my arse, Mum.
Instead there are aisles of cards with gushing romanticism: To my wonderful mum ... to the best mum in the world ... to a special mother.
Well, sorry Mum, but I won't be emotionally and socially blackmailed into buying mass produced sentimentality. And to be honest, you're not really any of the above.
Perhaps I'm just bitter. My mum is rarely present in my life, or in my children's lives. I wish she was. She didn't come and stay after the births of any of my babies. I wish she had. She sent a card though, so that was fine. She probably even knitted something, I can't remember now.
Looking back, she was never very maternal. Strange for someone who had four kids. She wasn't a hugger and I don't think she ever said 'I love you.' Perhaps people didn't back then. She was always too busy to play, though she always made time for Coronation Street and the ironing. Perhaps that's why I don't own an iron.
I thought things would change once I had children of my own, I hoped the uniting power of motherhood would forge a new bond between us. But instead of stacking the freezer and cooing over my newborn she kept her distance, not wanting to 'tread on my toes,' or at least, that was her excuse.
I tried to make it clear that I wanted, needed, her help. But she was new to this grandmother lark, and didn't want to get in the way. Despite not being around to see for herself, she was quick to label me as a 'natural mother' as if this somehow got her off the hook. Her refusal to get involved, her insistence on glossing over the reality of being a first time mum, made it impossible to admit that I was, at times, drowning in anxiety.
When my second child was born I thought she'd see the error of her ways and make amends. She didn't. Nor the third time, by which time it was too late anyway. The fragile double helix between us had disintegrated and I knew I was on my own.
Which is why I won't be pressured into buying hothouse roses or sickly sentiments. I'd love a mum who was a best friend, a confidante, someone to have a coffee or a glass of wine with, or just an honest laugh. Sadly, this isn't the case so I won't pretend otherwise just because it's Mother's Day.
For many people March 15th is just a perennial reflection of a relationship they don't have - either with their own mothers, or with children, either physically or emotionally. Behind the aisles of pink teddies, lies the pain of women who have lost mums, mums who have lost children, women for whom motherhood is just an aching, empty dream.
For me, Mother's Day will always be a double edged sword; a reminder of a relationship I don't have as well as three amazing ones I do have. So when I am rudely awoken at some awful hour this Mother's Day - as every other day - I will try to remember what a privilege it is to have children. When the youngest demands a feed, then goes to sleep on my face; when my son climbs into my bed, farts under the duvet and laughs, I'll remember that I don't need Tesco, Clinton, or anyone else, to tell me I'm loved. Rather than sitting down to a 'mum eats free' lunch, cooked by someone I'm not related to, I'll just be grateful for my family – and the sleep deprivation they cause.
And while I may never have the relationship I'd hoped for with my own mum, if she's taught me anything, it's that a mum's job is for life, not just for the first 18 years. And that it's not a job, it's love.
More on Parentdish: Why I'm estranged from my mum
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