Loss and Hope on Mother’s Day
All I ever wanted was to be one of those girls who had a really close relationship with her mom. I remember playing with my dollhouse when I was a little girl and pretending I was in some other (happy) family. Sadly, those feelings haven’t ever completely gone away, but I have learned to accept who both my parents are, and I have created my own little family.
I almost didn’t post anything today, but then I received a really sweet message from someone thanking me for helping her feel less alone on Mother’s Day last year – a sign to hit publish on this post. Sharing my story has helped some of you feel less alone and it’s given (some) meaning to what I’ve gone through. To what I’m still going through.
For some of us, this day is a reminder that we’re missing out on one of the most important relationships a person can have. This applies to anyone who doesn’t have a mom to celebrate today, to those who lost their mom, moms who don’t have children yet, and moms who don’t have their children here with them.
I want to speak to those of you who like me, don’t know what that unconditional love looks like. Missing out on a relationship that it seems most people have has been one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through. And on a day when endless photos and messages of love and gratitude fill our social media feeds, when it feels like everyone has something you don’t, that loss can feel stronger than ever.
I don’t feel right sharing the whole story here and this is probably the most I’ll ever say because it’s not just my story to tell, but I wanted to share a little more with the hope that it might help someone feel less alone today. I am generally very aware of what I’m missing out on (especially given everything that’s happened the past year) but I have learned over time and through therapy that it has nothing to do with me. That doesn’t make it easy, but it helps a little bit. My whole life, I always had Great Aunt Rose to support me through everything. She celebrated every victory and talked me through the things that didn’t work out the way a mother or grandmother would, and losing her to Alzheimer’s took away that constant support I could always count on. My friends, husband, and now his mom always stand by me, but there’s still that piece that’s missing, and it hurts.
My entire life, I was always told I wouldn’t amount to anything. I graduated UCSB with a 3.5 but we didn’t celebrate because I chose not to walk and it “wasn’t worth celebrating.” When I started my graphic design business, I heard “you’ll do anything to avoid getting a real job, won’t you?” and when we finally launched The Everygirl after spending 6 months of my life pouring everything into that site, I got a text that said “cool” while my cofounder was (very appropriately) celebrated by her family. I have received more support from readers surrounding my career, marriage, and now baby than I have from my own mother. For that, I want to thank all of you.
There were times she did things for me, like helped me move to Chicago. I always accepted said help hoping things would change, but they never did. There was always a cloud, a lack of interest, or a way to make me feel like I had failed in some way. I’d let her in and it would come back to blow up in my face. The worst offender (one that nearly broke me) was when I was told my husband and his family would one day turn their backs on me and that I’d have no one. This was said matter-of-factly since divorce rates are so high. And when the news of my baby girl wasn’t taken positively, I just knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to stop trying because I couldn’t take the pain.
Big life events like getting engaged, married, and now having a baby without the support of a mother has been awful. This was why wedding planning was so hard for me. I didn’t know how to do something so big without a family. I wish I had some story or advice that would fix everything for you, but I don’t. It’s something I am still working on, and I imagine it will always hurt.
This year, there are silver linings (even when it doesn’t feel that way), and ultimately, I want the message that you take away from this to be one of hope. The struggles I’ve gone through have helped others feel less alone. They’ve made me more empathetic to others. I There are days I’m fine and others when I feel a bit crushed or defeated, but I am ok. I am stronger than I think I am, and even though I know I won’t have to try to not be cruel to my daughter or chip away at her spirit (because that’s not in my nature), I have learned how to be more empathetic and more supportive when she’s struggling with something. I’ve learned to help others.
And there are some amazing women who deserve to be celebrated. The first is my mother-in-law. She supports us, celebrates my accomplishments the way I always hoped my mom would. Last week, a text from her telling me I’m going to be a good mom almost had me in tears – it was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. She is always there when we need help or support the way a mom should be. I’m excited to celebrate her today.
My friends who are like family to me. The moms who have helped pave the way for me. The ones who will teach me about motherhood.
Finally, there’s my sweet baby girl who may not be here yet, but the anticipation of the relationship I hope to have with her brings a peace I haven’t felt in a very long time. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that my mom and I will not have the relationship I hoped for, but in all honesty, there’s that part of me that’s waiting for things to change. But the good news is that I can have that with my daughter. I can be the mom to her that I wish I had – one who loves her unconditionally, lifts her up, and supports her. I can’t wait to meet her and already feel so lucky that I get to be her mom.
If you lost your mother, are grieving a relationship you wish you had wth your own mom, aren’t yet a mother yourself, or are grieving the loss of a child, know that you are not alone today.