Since writing my To the Motherless on Mother’s Day piece, I have heard several fresh stories from people with extreme and painful mother stories.
While not wanting to publicize their responses, many personal messages on the subject of being emotionally motherless while having a biological mother who remains physically alive, seemed to flood into my email.
I began to wonder how this experience of mother, this toxic state of mothering, could be so common, even pandemic, and yet remain so undercover. How off the track these secret stories are from how mothers are recalled by adult children in print, conversation, on the month of May walls of buildings, stores, Facebook, and blog pages.
It seems unfair, and wildly so, how unrepresented the motherless are in the celebratory parade of euphoria that is Mother’s Day.
“Tell your mother you love her” is the mantra on every broadcast.
“Call your mother today” is on the lips of every so-called expert.
I realize that there must be a thick wall of shame for adult children who were born into a world with a mentally unwell mother.
Sometimes people try to speak about this secret and the shame of it, only to be shut down by other people’s aggressive discomfort and alarm.
The society teaches that the mother is sacred.
The child is soiled for not honoring the sacred mother.
Even ordinary people act as gatekeepers of this mythology, unconsciously referring to not wanting to open “cans of worms”.
The problem for those adults who are motherless is that the worms are out of the can, and internally running roughshod.
In my opinion, they best be expelled and allowed to fry in the sun of truth.
It is my professional and personal experience that people are eager to talk about being emotionally motherless with a physically alive mother.
One story gripped me enough to write a second part to my original piece.
A woman I know needed to buy a birthday card one week before Mother’s Day.
She had suffered a tragic falling out with her mother. The kind of falling out that left her with no road back to what used to be “home”; no possible way back to her relationship with her mother.
She dreaded going anywhere to buy a card during the first half of May; dreaded the balloons and shiny store displays blasting the “show mom you love her” and “a mother’s love” themes.
Being a strong woman, she entered the card store, not grimly, but rather vacantly. She fogged her mind and heart a bit, and gamely noted the many walls of brightly colored cards for Mother, as she strode past them.
In her deliberate daze, she found herself in front of a display of sympathy cards.
One card among the collection seemed to speak right to her.
She picked it up and read the words, “Nothing is harder than saying Goodbye to someone you Love”.
She bought the card and brought it home.
Inside where the card said, “With Deepest Sympathy On Your Loss”,
she drew a line across the word “Your”, and wrote “Our”, as in “Our Loss”.
She wanted to send it to her mother on Mother’s Day.
She started to address the envelope to her mother, and was forced to stop.
She could not remember the number on her mother’s house address.
This was a long time family home, although she had never lived there.
She had addressed easily, by heart, hundreds of cards over the years to this house.
Yet, she could not pull up the number of the address in her memory.
She paused. She waited. She breathed.
She realized the card was meant for her.
Not for her mother.
No matter how much or how little our mothers were able to give,
remember that childhood was only the first stretch of the road.
It’s not too late to be mothered from within!
Now is the perfect time to step fully into the mother role; the role of mothering yourself.
As you address yourself with more patience, kindness, and love, you will notice that you attract different kinds of people who express a mothering style of caring and interest.
That’s how it works.
Your biological mother is your history.
You are your own mother today and for the rest of your life.
Start by listening to how you speak to yourself. If you are harsh and unforgiving, understand that this is the voice of your biological mother.
The compassion and sweetness of your own voice needs to be cultivated and practiced.
Respect yourself for having the guts and the spirit to know the truth about your mother and yourself.
Celebrate your true mom on Mother’s Day: You!