Mother’s Day with an estranged mother feels pretty complex. The mother-daughter relationship takes so many variations throughout life, and layered in there grows the unique and sacred bond. Throw some colorful estrangement in the mix, and Mother’s Day gets a little complicated for motherless daughters.
My own mother-daughter relationship comes with its own complex story, but that’s not exactly what I’m here to write about. Every Mother’s Day I get this feeling in my gut; it’s like guilt but not quite, like you’re not doing enough, even when you’ve done all you can. Knots in your stomach, sort of how it felt when you were a kid and wanted your mom. But now, she’s not there. No cards to be sent, no calls to be made, no one on the receiving end of that feeling — and that’s her choice. How do you cope with being a motherless daughter?
Give Yourself a Voice. Breaking the code of silence allows a point of “reality” for women to heal. Grow through what you’ve gone through by talking about how it affected you and how you feel about it. Give a voice to your story. However healing looks to you at an individual level is up to you, but the people around you deserve to know what made you who you are so that they can support you every step of the way. Tell your story.
You’re Not Alone. At the end of the day, breaking the code of silence — sharing your feelings about what you’ve been through — will unveil a new reality. One where you’re not alone. Plenty of us are out there navigating this world totally on our own. Find your people, other “nowhere kids” and motherless daughters. People who can relate to you are out there and they need to hear your voice for that same certainty: We are not alone.
Give Yourself Time. You’re not defined by your circumstances. As you continue to age, those circumstances will continue to change. Look back on the events of your life and grow from them. Know that they’re just that — events. Moments in time, just parts of your story. It all adds up to shape who you are. How you choose to use those experiences is up to you.
Allow Yourself Closure, Whatever That Looks Like. Make yourself knowledgeable about what your mother has been through in her life. Even if you and your mother no longer speak, days like Mother’s Day and even the weeks leading up to it can be fueled with anger toward her. While forgiveness is often hard, developing empathy for your mother will give you some slack to loosen the emotional chokehold she has as you navigate this tough journey.
You’re Still Good. In our culture, we are taught that the bond between a mother and child is so unwavering that it can never be broken. So when it is broken, we tend to think that it’s our fault, and we feel inadequate — or like we aren’t good. Unlearn those thoughts, because you are good, you’re valuable, and you’re loved. Celebrate yourself and the human that you raised from those experiences. You are choosing to lead a life differently than the one from which you came. Rise, you phoenix, rise. While this advice is not a guarantee that the day you’re dreading will be easier, it may help you anticipate special events like Mother’s Day a little more gracefully. If there is one thing that I can assert with great conviction, it is that we are not defined by the circumstances we have inherited, but rather, by how we choose to grow from them. At times, I don’t recognize the life I created for myself, compared to the life that I hail from. I am not the same child my mother abandoned, I am the human who was formed from that experience. Look in the mirror on Mother’s Day — this is the woman who raised you. Happy Mother’s Day to a motherless daughter like me.
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