Mother’s Day Comes ‘Round Again
Mother’s Day. Not exactly my favorite holiday. I spend most of the time wondering if I’ll hear from my son – will he text, call even? Most years now, I receive a nod in the form of a brief text, which is fine, but a bit underwhelming.
I recently had a session with a wonderful therapist. After telling her more of my ‘story’ from the past, she helped me understand something profoundly important for my recovery: I was a better mother than I have given myself credit for. I was a kind, sensitive, supportive mother. I loved my child with my whole heart and soul.
For many, many years, I have tortured myself with guilt. When the estrangement started, I felt even more guilt. My son was forming a very different picture of his childhood under the relentless, negative spin that his wife put on it. She has her rules about how motherhood, fatherhood, marriage and raising children should look, and I didn’t fit that construct.
The recent revelation, again with the insights and perspective of my therapist, is that I was a good mother. I wasn’t Betty Crocker, by any stretch, but I was authentic and never faltered in my love and concern for my son. He inherited my vibrant spirit, my ability to take risks, my artistic soul. But, although he once enjoyed my humor and identified with my free spiritedness, he now condemns both.
I’ve said this before, but the point is this: I am done criticizing myself and feeling overcome with guilt. My therapist pointed out that, despite overwhelming obstacles, I fought “heroically” for my son – for his safety, well-being and to be able to mother him and love him. I have been treated unfairly, but I will no longer treat myself unfairly. I’ve done all I can, even putting myself in the de-humanizing position of begging for scraps of love from him when this estrangement and alienation began.
My son’s perceptions have become sadly warped. He no longer communicates with me. I can’t change his mind, so I must change my own mind. A blind person can’t be expected to see the sky or a deaf person to hear music; it is equally unrealistic to expect someone who is invested in believing lies to embrace the truth.
I understand more deeply what the reality of my experience as a mother was. I’m also getting in touch with a deep anger that I haven’t allowed myself to feel – anger at the injustices that I’ve endured and anger at the current circumstances of alienation. I think this anger is a good thing – it’s a healthy response to the irrational, cruel and unjust way I have been treated.
So, Happy Mother’s Day to every mother who did the best she could for her children and never wavered in her love for them. Appreciate yourself today and remember that you were and are still a good mother.