Waxing poetic about the loving hand of a mother brings conflicting emotions into my head and heart. Who I am as a mother stands in stark contrast to the mother I had. None of the mother’s day cards reflect my experience. There were no kind words, no gentle touches, no baking cookies, no teaching life skills or having heart felt talks. Mine was a childhood of abuse. Of a mother who showed that she hated me and I assumed it was because of who my biological father was. Based on how she treated me, she must have hated him.
I can not send her a card about our loving relationship or growing up admiring her and wanting to be like her; it would be lies. She was mean and horrible to me as a toddler, a child and as a teen. I learned to not trust or believe in adults from her. I learned about lying about what you do inside the house, hiding the shameful secret that you were so horrible your mother hated you and hurt you. I learned that you were not safe unless a protective male figure was present. I learned that violence happens not always as a result of actions but also from the lack of control of the individual needing to lash out at people they see as weaker.
What I did learn from my mother was that everyone has a choice about who they become; you are either fight or you run and both of those actions can manifest itself in several ways. I was a fighter who couldn’t fight back physically because I was a small child. So I chose to not let her touch my mind and it infuriated her. She couldn’t make me forgive her, after she beat me up and would angrily shout at me that she was sorry, demanding that I forgive her. Fierce eyes glaring, I remained silent; crying out only when hit or kicked. I learned very young to never let her see me or hear me cry, it at all possible.
I discovered my mother was a runner. Choosing violence towards me because I was vulnerable and represented all that was wrong in her life. She lashed out at me rather than deal with her own issues from her past. She ran from her issues and responsibility and I did not respect her for her weakness in hurting me, simply because I was weaker than her. It added another layer of resentment to the hate she seemed to have for me, for being stronger than she was. At least that’s what I came up with by the time I was 7 or 8. I also decided to defend the playground children against any and all bullies from that moment on. It meant I fought someone every single day for 5 years, when I was in school.
I did not want children because I feared becoming my mother. I chose my partner based on traits he showed that I believed would support me and our future children. Yes, I loved him, but I also made a conscious choice on being with him. He was safe, neutral and did not become animated or depressed. I knew he was entirely and completely predictable and would remain so. It was the single most important thing to me in anyone I was going to be with or as a trait in any friend I had. Faithful stability. I never wanted to be faced with conflict again.
Once I had my family, I finally understood just how broken my mother was. Her words and actions toward me as a child, seemed unconceivable because I now had definitive proof that what she did and how she treated me, was wrong. I forgave her, I developed a tenuous relationship with her filled with structure and rules. I kept my mouth shut after an initial expulsion of my childhood reality, as I tried to get her to take accountability for what she did and she denied it claiming my perception was skewed. The confrontation was for my sanity and did not really require her to admit her past actions towards me, though that would have been the new start I wanted. As an adult, we had a stable 10 years where my father acted as mediator, interpreter and a check and balance to her insanity where I was concerned, when she started to show agitation with me. Time and distance ensured that our interaction would be limited and therefore positive.
Then my father died.
It took less than a year for the relationship with my mother to completely disintegrate. I no longer had my protector. At first I assumed her actions were part of her grieving process and then I assumed that perhaps she was suffering with the beginnings of dementia. I would call her and she would be argumentative when I claimed to not know something she said she had told me about. She would get angry, very angry, when I asked if perhaps she told my step sister, as opposed to me and had us confused. The more combative she became the more I was triggered and the less I was able to handle. My own life and experiences had built upon childhood traumas and there are certain things that I can no longer tolerate. Verbal abuse and implied disrespect was not going to be allowed.
She started to lie about contacting me, claiming she had called and spoken to me about something important, like selling her house. The house she shared with my father for 15 years and that he died in. When I reminded her that I had ‘call display’ and ‘call logs’ which was proof that she had not called my number, she felt cornered and attacked. The last thing she said to me was, “I don’t have time for you and I’ll message you when I do.” That was 2 years ago. I no longer need her to be a presence in my life, simply because she is my mother, nor do I care if I have a relationship with her any longer. But the wagons were drawn around her by her siblings and I basically have no contact with some and very limited with others. I’m okay with that. I simply do not need the drama as I am ill equipped to deal with it, when I am dealing with my own family issues as well.
Some mothers are better off being forgotten on Mothers Day because the only thing they did was provide you with a roof over your head and the basic necessities to live. They did not inspire you to love or to thrive in an environment of acceptance. Sometimes on Mothers Day, you have to think about those people who did not have a mother who loved them. Women who gave birth to children they did not want and should not have kept.
Because of my twisted experience with experiencing maternal interactions, I love my children with nouns and verbs. I attack them with hugs and poke them with attention; I teasingly barter affection from them for ‘leaving them alone’, which means ambush hugging them. I love them with food and cups of tea, with breakfast in bed after letting them sleep in. I challenge them and push them to be the best version of themselves they can and I explode with joy when I hear them laugh. I bug them, tease them, act like a little kid following them around praising them like a foolish crush in exaggerated fashion and they are embarrassed by it, yet secretly love it.
My experience with Mothers Day, is not about them recognizing me, but my being grateful that I had the opportunity to love them as a Mother should love their child; with no reservations or conditions and with the absolute certainty that my entire life’s purpose was fulfilled simply by being their mom. I am far from perfect and wish I had done better, though I tried to do the best I could. My children know I will fiercely fight for them and I hope it’s because they understand I desperately love them.
Happy Mothers Day to those who love their children with all they are and to those mothers who loved their children enough to give them up, if they couldn’t love them as they deserved to be.