The relationship you have with your mother sets the foundation of your relationship with yourself, hence all relationships in your life; and mine was a weird one.
I’ve seen so much chatter in the last few days about Mother’s Day – and it’s a wide range of opinions. From the gushy social media posts (often, guilty as charged), to the lavish gifts, spa time, all the way to the bitter posts of single moms, to “it’s just a Hallmark holiday”. I, like in most cases, can see both (and all) sides.
2023 has yielded some heavy (and awesome!) months – and I’ll be sharing all of that in the next few posts! The holidays hit hard, that’s when the magic of the family unit is missing for me. I haven’t always felt that way in my time being single.
Being a single mom (or dad) isn’t easy. Both my parents are gone, so that sentimental part about my mom, hits hard on the day. Feeling grateful for where I am, that I have three healthy, wonderful, human beings by my side, but reflecting on where I am right now, made me a little sad, to be honest.
Sometimes, battling those feelings can really cloud the day – but I also think it’s important to feel them…and then move on. Which is what I did. I took full advantage and slept in and woke up to a thoughtful display of Mother’s Day pleasures on the kitchen table, text messages from friends and my ex-husband wishing me a happy Mother’s Day …and three kids fighting about every aspect of the day…all day!
I know some divorced couples don’t have the comfortability that my ex and I have, I do want to take a moment and say that I am truly grateful to my ex-husband. He has stepped up in so many ways and I often in conversation (it comes naturally) rave about the fact that he’s a better partner now than he ever was…and perhaps “this” just works better for us. He’s a great dad, and I appreciate the kindness and grace we have given each other in the last few years that we’ve been apart. He sets a great example to our children.
I set out (although dragging myself a little at times, thanks bestie!) and did what I said I was going to do…get my plants for my garden, and hang around with my kiddos, grilled dinner, and just enjoyed each other.
I’ve been going through some relationship stuff and spent a portion of the day thinking about and grieving that, and wishing I had a partner who was present, and wanted to spend the day with me too. I want to talk more about that – but that will be to come, this is a Mother’s Day post after all!
I have said a few things about my relationship with my mother, but I think after some major clarity in the last few years, I am ready to divulge some of the insight I have discovered – in hopes it may help you as well.
I think I have finally learned enough through therapy and my own reflection and practices that my mom did the best she could, given the information and tools she had. She struggled with mental health, for most of her life. Depression is a very real and tumultuous problem, and if unaddressed, can impact absolutely everything in your life. I know she struggled; I struggle. As with most parents I know, our goal is to do better than our parents did for us. Five generations down the line, we should have some perfect relationships with our offspring! All kidding aside, we strive to do better and be better than what we experienced.
I think some scars may have run too deep, and probably did for her. I know that she loved me to the best of her ability, but it was limited coming from her own upbringing. Being “raised” by a mother who was a buffet of negative, abusive, confused, and often overstimulating feelings laid the groundwork for a lot of my own turmoil. Layers of an onion, let me tell you.
She struggled with her own self-worth – I didn’t really know that until more recently; now, it all seems so obvious. I believe that I reminded her of herself a great deal – which is why I think I bore the brunt of the abuse and then the outpouring of “love”, shortly thereafter. I don’t blame her, and I take full responsibility for my own triggers and don’t reflect those on my kids, which should be our #1 responsibility as parents. (Which is another topic we need to talk about!). I didn’t have the supportive mom, I had the mom you had to convince to do things. I had the mom who made it all about her, you couldn’t have a feeling without having to compete with her own feeling. She didn’t say “I love you”, she didn’t tell me I was smart, or beautiful or funny – note, because it was a reflection of herself.
She was beautiful, and had a lot to offer – if she could’ve seen that herself, she would’ve saved herself a lot of pain.
It was an endless cycle of looking for approval from her, which wasn’t ever validated. Expectations were never clear to me beyond: do well in school, get a good job so you can make a lot of money, you’re too fat you should really do something about it, and don’t piss me off. It was an ever-revolving door of feeling “not good enough”, and to this day, still struggle with that same feeling in my relationships. It’s something I still (and probably will forever) must work at.
Observing her with family friends was always interesting, and everyone loved my mom. I loved her too. She was always willing to go the extra mile for her friends in earlier days, and often helped – I think that is where she felt validated. But standing alongside her and hearing her gush about a friend’s daughter and how beautiful and proud she was of them, broke my heart – and it was a recurring theme from childhood through adulthood. It laid some shaky groundwork for me.
I don’t share that with you to feel bad, and I hope it helps you to realize when I say I felt a little sad and reflective, those are the reasons why. Holidays are just weird in that way sometimes.
On the flip side, although feeling like I’m starting over for the one millionth time, I am proud of where I am now; in life, my own self-worth, and I know great things are waiting for me just around the corner.
I have been practicing this major gratitude movement in my life, and letting it spill out everywhere I go. There is so much more I want to share (and will be – so keep checking back!). I am grateful for all of you who read, listen, and learn. I am grateful for my mom, my family, my friends, and most of all, my children. They are my driving force every day – to push and continue to do better. We’ve raised some pretty amazing tiny (I can’t even say that anymore!) humans!
To the single mamas: You need to fill your own cup – no one is going to do it for you. Buy yourself flowers. Read a book. Make yourself dinner. Take yourself out on a date. Do an at home facial.
To the married mamas: Ask for help. Do the above.
I think many of my readers are moms, some single, some married. There has always been chatter and joking among friends that moms have Mother’s Day with their kids but when it comes to Father’s Day…the dads seem to get the day off. This year, there seemed to be this movement if you will, that dads should be bearing the brunt of the responsibility, and letting mom have the day off. It’s an interesting concept, and I kind of love it. What do you think?
Thinking of you, and sending you love XOXO