There is a well-written blog entry that is making its way around Facebook called “A Letter to the Motherless Daughters on Mother’s Day.” I read it because I consider myself a motherless daughter. The blog struck me on two levels. First the level on which it was intended to; I miss Mama, my maternal grandmother who was my mother in every sense but biology, since she passed away 10 years ago. Jenna, the author of the blog, says, “Remember the sorrow, remember the love, remember everything. Talk to her, she’s always listening.” I do. And I believe that. It is an important reminder, though, and I am glad Jenna took the time out to remind all of us who have had this type of significant loss. On days like this, it is easy to succumb to that profound sadness instead of focusing on the joys of the life they gave us, as all good mothers want their babies to do. What a blessing it was that my Mama loved me, cared for me, believed in me and did her best to protect me when it was not her responsibility to do so. I do not know what would have become of me if she hadn’t. That is something to celebrate today.
Then on the other level…profound loneliness because of the abuse and abandonment of my biological mother. Truth be told, I was hoping that Jenna’s open letter was addressed to people like me…the ones whose mothers defied instinct and harmed their babies rather than nurture them. Each year I would be filled with a sense of dread as I entered the Hallmark store. All the cards spoke to the unconditional mother’s love that’s been expressed through the years or boo-boo kissing or creating enduring memories. Hallmark didn’t have a card celebrating the enduring memories my mother bestowed upon me. I felt like a freak. I felt like a hypocrite when I did buy one, knowing that this is nowhere near the relationship I ever had. I felt like I was the only one who couldn’t get passed the things my mother said and did or didn’t do. I would try to tell people about my dilemma and get responses like “Wow…that’s horrible…but she’s your mom and it’s Mother’s Day.” It’s not their fault. Most people don’t understand…and that is a blessing in and of itself. But for those of us Other Motherless Children, it is indescribably lonely on a daily basis, amplified to a nearly unbearable degree on this day each year. But we are not alone. Sadly, there are a lot of us out there. I wished that Jenna’s blog spoke to that because it’s something that nobody ever writes about. Today, I am writing about it.
There is a particular shame attached to being the kid that even a mother couldn’t love. Through decades of therapy and being blessed with people who love me-for-me, I learned on a rational level that the rejection I experienced had little-to-nothing to do with me and everything to do with my mother and her own baggage and frailties…but the feeling of being unlovable never fully goes away. You just pick up tools and the skills to use them to cope with the pain effectively. It does get better if you let it.
Becoming a mother myself was terrifying. My greatest fear was that no matter what I did, my baby’s fate would be to have a mother like mine. I believed the things she said about me. I believed my defects were the most dominating parts of who I was and that it was all I had to offer. She was wrong about me. I was wrong about me. I am my own person and because of that, I became my own brand of Mommy…who was far from perfect. Let’s be honest here. I am still “me” and I prove daily that I am human…some days more human than others. I am heavily flawed. I have numerous issues. But I am greater than the sum of my parts. I am a survivor. I love my baby girl unconditionally, the way that every mother should. These are the greatest gifts I can give her. The love that my little girl and I share is what I celebrate today.
I believe there are two sides of every coin. Even in the darkest situation, if you look really hard for it, you will find that it brought light to you as well. While light may never outshine the darkness of that particular situation, I’ve gotten comfort from a single candle’s light during a blackout, helping me to manage through it…so long as I made sure it didn’t blow out.
Because of my life’s negative experiences, I possess positive qualities and skills that I don’t believe I would’ve otherwise obtained, at least not to the degree that I achieved them. I am the calm during the storm; I am able to remain rational amid chaos, formulating a focused plan to make it to the other side of it. I am deeply compassionate because I realize that there is usually a reason behind why people are the way they are and behave the way that they behave; hurt people hurt people…often times others, more often themselves. I listen keenly to words spoken and unspoken because I know the pain of being ignored. I can find the humor in anything and use the power of laughter (often peppered with sarcasm) to help myself and others out of the darkness. I have not reached the state of enlightenment in my recovery where I am thankful for receiving the negative experiences of my upbringing. I don’t know if I will ever reach that state. But I have gratitude for the lessons it taught me, the gifts I received because of it and the unique way I can help others get through it all.
So to all the Other Motherless Children out there today…Mom was wrong. However you got here, you have a right to be here. You are deserving of real love. You are not alone. YOU are the candle that shines through the darkness. Break the cycle. I did. You can, too.