In North America, Mother’s Day is Sunday. We’re inundated by how wonderful, how noble, how fantastically loving and sweet Mothers are.
But…what if yours wasn’t?
What if your mother was a cautionary tale?
What if thinking of your mother brings back memories of neglect, abuse, terror?
Hallmark sure as hell doesn’t make a card for that.
It’s so hard to read about all these wonderful mothers, who adore their kids, their grandkids, and not resent it being shoved in your face. Be it on Facebook, TV, radio or newspapers. It makes you want to go into hiding until it’s all over and done with.
It’s even harder when you’re a mother yourself. You parent your children, and a small secret part of you wonders why your mother didn’t love you the way you love your children. You’re haunted by things done in the past, and find yourself comparing your child’s childhood to your own, and wonder why your mother didn’t treat you better. How she could be abusive, or allow others to be to you.
When the one person that should have loved you unconditionally, taught you self worth, self confidence, self esteem, sought instead to cause you pain, torment, anguish, it’s a hard thing to let go of.
When thoughts of your mother’s voice, instead of being loving encouragement, bring feelings of guilt, pain, and sorrow.
When you hear people say, “You only get one mother!” your knee jerk reaction is to think, “Thank GOD!” because there’s no way you could’ve survived two of them.
When you lost, or never had your mother, not due to death, but to addictions, mental illness, personality disorders, it makes it impossible to join in on the lauding of motherhood as the epitome of loving perfection.
Even if it was a matter of her being caught in her own demons from her past, struggling with a history of abuse she endured, that left her unable, incapable, of being the mother you needed and deserved. Not that she was a bad, or evil person, but that her best wasn’t good enough.
Others, who had a very different experience, don’t understand. Well meaning though they are, the encouragement to call, send a card, to forgive because we all make mistakes, are rubbing salt in the wound.
For the motherless among us, being estranged, be it by our own choice, or having it thrust upon us, is a difficult, painful experience. If it was our choice, it was a choice made out of desperation, of needing to protect ourselves, our children, from the toxic person who raised us. If it was a choice thrust upon us, we struggle mightily with the feelings of abandonment, and wonder why we weren’t good enough to be loved the way every child deserves.
To the motherless, I say: this is not, and never has been your fault. The failing was hers, not yours. You are worthy of being loved, you are special, wonderful, and worthy of respect and kindness.
Sometimes, the best we can do is use our experiences as a cautionary tale. To not parent as we were, to be a better mother than we had, to ensure that our children never feel the bitterness of Mother’s Day when they have a mother unworthy of celebration.
To ensure that our children never know what it’s like to feel unwanted, unloved, rejected, abused, abandoned.
To be the mother we wish we’d had. That we deserved to have.
And to you, who struggle to find your way in motherhood without a path of example to follow, to you who lie awake at night, terrified that, despite your best efforts, you’re following the path your own mother set for you, I say, it’s going to be ok. You can change your path. You can make your own way.
You are a strong, brave person. You have made it through what was, and are living what is.
You can do this.
Celebrate the mother you are, not the mother you wish you had. Celebrate you. Celebrate the mother of your children, for the mother she is.
For those who aren’t parents, I offer you the same. Celebrate whatever woman in your life that inspires you to be a better person. Be it another family member, a best friend, a best friend’s mother. They may not have been the woman that raised you, but I think Mother’s day should broaden to include those who love and support others.
Celebrate you. You are your own champion, your own protector, all those things that a mother was meant to be, but wasn’t for you. You learned to do it for yourself.
Happy Mother’s Day to you all, who don’t have a mother to celebrate, for being the person you are.