When I was 18, my mother told me that she wished I had never been born. I was devastated, but it wasn’t the first time I experienced the deep crush of being unwanted. For most I’ve my life I’ve carried that burden personally, as if some inherent flaw within myself was the cause of such deep rejection. It’s taken a toll.
Then, at almost 60, I came to understand that my birth, and that of my siblings, changed my mother’s life forever, and not for the better. I came to realize that what she told me that day had little to do with me. With each pregnancy, her dreams were dashed, her bright future derailed. Pregnant at 19, unable to graduate school, she was relegated to a life she would never have chosen, with a man she didn’t love. She had few options in those days.
Not all are women are meant to be mothers. Mine wasn’t. Mothers are far from perfect, no matter that Hallmark tells us they are. I have tremendous compassion now for my mother and all that she suffered. I can see now that her neglect of me, which was laid on me like a lead jacket, wasn’t the result of some failure originating within me. It was that she lost her hope, her dreams, and at a very young age. After a lifetime of trying to reconcile my pain, I’ve finally learned not to take what she said and did personally.
My mother drank herself to death when I was 23. She was just 49. I wish I could hold her today and tell her I finally understand. That I see her suffering. I wonder what her future might have been. So many mothers need support. They need an ear, a shoulder, a break.
I wouldn’t call it a happy mothers day necessarily - they never are for me - but I’m grateful to have healed so much, learned so much. I've worked hard to heal this pain. I've tried to give what I never received, especially to my own children. I haven't always succeeded.
Often, those we love the most act out of pain that has nothing to do with us. My hope is to offer grace and compassion to those who struggle deeply. We’re all struggling now. Maybe this will be a time of great healing. Maybe we can learn to be kinder toward ourselves and others, to not take others’ struggles personally, but to lean in and offer help. Maybe.