Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I know it was EVERYwhere on social media. Hard to avoid, to be honest. Every page had a piece on mothers, motherly love, gratitude and so on. Although there is no love more profound than the love of a mother, it’s also the most painful when complications arise.
There are some who would have loved to (still) have a mother. There are many with a mother who wasn’t able of unconditional love for some reason, illness, addiction, work, survival. Or those with mothers who have hurt them unconsciously or on purpose. There are some women who would have loved to be a mother but didn’t have the chance to give birth and experience the love for a child of their own. Women who lost a child, which is an unimaginable burden. And some who had children but weren’t able to care for them as they would have wanted. All of these are sources of great pain and sorrow. The shadows of Mother’s Day.
Nothing ‘happy-merry-flowery’ like the ads we saw all over the internet yesterday.
With my own mother I have a complicated relationship, so to speak. She suffered from depression for the largest part of my childhood. I know she’s not to blame for that condition. However, it destroyed our connection. I remember her with headaches, or in bed. From a very young age, I didn’t dare to tell her when I fell or hurt myself, sensing that she wasn’t able to cope. I hid my sadness and fears. When I was older, I had no mother to discuss my teenager problems with. She would come home from work and go straight to bed. No mom to talk to, no support. I remember the house quiet and empty, no music was allowed in the house. No laughter, no friends, I didn’t dare to take them home with me, because I never knew what to expect. I see how she wasn’t able to help herself, but it made me taking care of both myself and a parent way too early. I became a doctor because I wanted to fix it, I studied psychiatry to be able to understand her depression. Of course I couldn’t. I felt the obligation as a child to take care of her emotional needs and forget my own, a role obviously doomed to fail, and for failing at it I felt guilty for most of my life. A dynamic evolved of her blaming me for not loving her and not being affectionate and me creating distance and feeling guilty about it. This pattern of blame and guilt kills the love a child feels for a mother. The things she so desperately needed from me and I needed from her, love and affection, just vanished into thin air.
Nothing ‘happy-merry-flowery’ here.
“The truth is that no child can save her mother.” – Bethany Webster
As I am a divorced mom with a co-parenting agreement I have to let go of my children every 3-4 days. I just have to trust they are taken care of, which in itself is hard enough because as a mother you think you are the only one who can do this right. It’s not easy nor normal to let go of your children when they are so young. The right time to let them go is puberty, not when they are toddlers or preschoolers. I remember vividly having to leave my 3-year old with my ex’s new partner. I had to, although my heart broke into a thousand pieces; she was crying so hard and wanted to cling on to me. I just wanted to take her with me but I wasn’t allowed. Which is a heartbreaking thing to experience as a mother, not being allowed to console your children ‘because of the agreement’. And yesterday, on Mother’s Day, they were not with me. Although that hurts, it also became a familiar thing I’m not really conscious of anymore. We are all used to the arrangement but the construct of Mother’s Day points it all out once again, we have to miss each other a lot.
What was very difficult for me over the last year was my inability to care for them whenever they were with me. Due to my health issues and exhaustion, I often couldn’t provide the care I wanted for them. It made me very sad and I was truly doubting my role in this world. What was it I had to give when I couldn’t even take care of my own children? Yesterday reminded me of those heavy emotions.
Luckily I re-married a wonderful man who took on the tasks of caring and nurturing my daughters, without questioning, without complaining. Although his own children are in their twenties already, he just did it. He has been the extension of my motherly love for months. It made my love for him grow even more and it made the bond between him and my daughters much stronger. I am extremely grateful for his unconditional support and loving care. We celebrated that on Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day. It made my heart sing, we were together as a new, loving family, showing each other what love is.
It was a happy-merry-flowery day!
Let’s celebrate whenever we feel the occasion. Not because of some invented day that reminds us of our pain.
If you want to read more on the dynamics of the Mother Wound, you can find it here (Womb of Light – the work of Bethany Webster).