Last weekend was Mother’s Day. I woke up early like I always do, let out the chickens from their coops and fed the dogs and cats. I talked on the phone with my honey who is overseas right now. I made myself a cappuccino and sat down on the couch to drink my coffee and check my phone for emails and play Word with Friends. And when I was finally fully awake and realizing what day it is, I cried. I cried because I miss my husband and wished he was here to spoil me for Mother’s Day. I cried because as of almost 4 years ago I no longer have a mother to call and wish a Happy Mother’s Day to. And I cried because I never had the kind of relationship with my mother that I had longed for.
This is a deeply personal thing for me to say publicly, but I do so, hoping it might help someone. My mother was not always a good mother, nor was I always a good daughter. It is not that we didn’t try, and that we didn’t do the best with the skills and knowledge that we had. My mother had narcissistic personality disorder, also known as NPD. I didn’t know that term nor was aware of such disorder until her final years of life. I always knew that our relationship was different from other mother-daughter pairs that I knew. But I never really talked about it to anyone. I knew several people that had lost their mothers early in life and would give anything to have them back. How could I tell people that my own mother caused me pain emotionally? It was, and still is, such a taboo to speak ill of one’s parents, especially mothers. After all, we are told to “honor thy mother and thy father”.
Biology doesn’t make a good mother. One only has to look at the animal world. I raise chickens and one of my hens is not allowed to hatch eggs because she kills them once they are born. That’s an extreme example I know. The rest of my hens that have hatched eggs have been very good mothers, they are a delight to observe. Motherhood is hard. Frankly, I feel irritated when people assume it all comes naturally. Not all women make good mothers nor do all women even want to be mothers (and that is perfectly ok). We talk about thanking our mothers for giving us life, but being a mother is more than giving birth to a baby. Keeping us alive, clothed, bathed, fed, and educated is the bare minimum. To quote one of my favorite podcasters, Adam Young from “The Place We Find Ourselves”, we need our mothers to “find delight in us”. And not all mothers are able to do that for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes mothers realize their lacking after their children are grown and healing can begin for all of them. Sometimes there is very little hope of a nurturing and loving relationship and ties have to be cut. This is where daughters especially are shamed by family and society. We are not supposed to spurn our own mothers. We are supposed to be dutiful and always forgiving. Forgiveness is a good thing, but healing and protecting one’s own heart are just as important, if not more. It is also important for future generations. Acknowledging abusive patterns and seeking help is an important step in breaking generational trauma.
I am not, in any way, saying that mothers are not to be celebrated. I am saying that we need to be more supportive and understanding of the struggles of motherhood. We need to listen without judgement or shame. For those of who have to walk away from toxic relationship with our mothers, know we do not do it lightly. It is not a lack of love but a desire to preserve our own sanity and to heal. It is also to be better mothers for those of us who go down that path. It took a lot of work on my part to heal the injured little girl in me, and with that came forgiveness. Instead of focusing on the pain of my childhood I am able to remember the good times and focus on the good in my mother. I believe she experienced similar trauma growing up, and I sympathize greatly with that. Like I said, we both did our best with what we knew.
For all the mothers out there, I salute you and celebrate you. Remember to take care of your own heart so that you may give it freely to your children. For all of the daughters out there with toxic mothers, it is ok to acknowledge that you deserve better. Please seek out therapy if you haven’t done so already.
My favorite quote of all time and the principle by which I try to lead my life is from Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Hi! I’m an American girl from everywhere and nowhere, currently living in Tennessee. Navy wife and Navy mom, I have two beautiful children that are “adults” but I still call them my babies. I’m also mom to 4 dogs, 3 cats, 7 goats, 2 turkeys and 70 chickens (I think, they keep multiplying and I’ve lost count). When I’m not tending to my animals I’m running, reading, lifting weights, cooking or crafting. Some weeks I do them all and some weeks I only manage to binge watch a new show on Netflix. They call that balance right? I was a practicing massage therapist until the Covid pandemic halted my business. Now I’m considering new career options as I feel this was a sign to reevaluate my goals. When I run I have discussions in my head that I always think I should write down. Here’s my chance to do just that. I hope you enjoy. IG: @love.run.lift