I have been estranged from my mother for over a year now through my own decisions. It’s a choice I don’t regret 364 days of the year. But, today, sadness and guilt overwhelm me. Today, I’m reminded of everything my mother wasn’t. Today, my heart physically aches at the thought of my son-years into the future-removing all contact from me like I have with my own mom. Today, in North America, we celebrate the day of mothers.
A day when we celebrate the kind, nurturing nature of moms. When we’re encouraged to call up our own mother and thank her for the wonderful job she did. It’s a day we appreciate the compassionate, soft, and loving touch only a mom could give. A day we all stand, unified, thankful for the benevolence, loyalty, and unconditional love of a woman who pushed a child through her own body. It’s a day we spend in celebration, reminded of how incredible, and utterly selfless our own mother is and was.
That is…unless, she wasn’t.
My Facebook is swarmed with beautiful photos of moms and their kids. It’s clogged with long, heartfelt letters to moms, thanking them for being so absolutely wonderful. The stores are flooded with people buying roses, cards, and chocolates for the woman in their life who helped shape them into who they are.
And I’m left, just sort of standing there. My heart heavy, and my cheeks wet.
Once again, I am reminded of my own mother’s shortcomings.
Once again, the memories of loneliness, fear, and neglect flood my mind.
And, once again, my heart grows heavy with jealousy at what I should have had.
The reminders that “you only have one mom” come as a relief. There’s no way you’d want two.
The urges to “forgive and forget” are just another stab as you wonder how you could ever forget.
Mother’s Day is tough when you have no mom.
It’s hard when it wasn’t death that stole her away, but mental illness and addiction-when her own demons from her past were so strong that they followed you into your future.
It’s kind of difficult to join in on the mother praising and celebration when, by your own choice, your mother has been removed from your life. When there are nights you sit awake, paralyzed by fear, because you don’t want to make your own child feel the way you did, even for a second. When you try so hard not to be like her that the terror overwhelms you.
When you promise yourself that your children will never feel the deep loneliness that pricks at your heart on this day of celebration.
To those who suffer on this day: you are not alone.
Celebrate the women in your life who have inspired you to be better. The women who show you what a true mother’s love looks like. I celebrate my own mother-in-law who has taught me that love alone can grow a child into a strong, independent, wonderful father.
But more than that, today, celebrate you.
Celebrate the mother of your children, the mother who would go to the ends of the Earth to make her child smile. Celebrate your strength. Celebrate the love you gave yourself on the nights it was coldest, and everything you were for yourself. You, who became your own hero, your own protector, and your own source of comfort. Yeah, the sting never really goes away, but you learned to do it for yourself.
Today, I remind myself that I made the right decision. That, for my own protection of myself, my family, and my child, I did what was right. The choice to estrange myself from my mother was not one that was done easily or taken lightly, and it’s a decision that, even today, I do not regret.
Until next time,