Date: May 11, 2015
posted by Lee / Comments: No Comments / Tags: death, loss, love, mother's day, motherhood
This past Sunday, all over America, people celebrated Mother’s Day. This day will for many, be a great excuse to spoil rotten the women who raised them. To make breakfast in bed for and to bring flowers to, most probably, the most important woman in their lives.
However, for me and for many others, this day is bittersweet. To those of us who have lost our mothers or are estranged from them, this day can be fraught with emotion.
My mother died when I was 14-years-old. At a time when I was just starting to figure out what it meant to be a woman, my most prominent example was taken from me. As a result, I’ve had to make my own way and my own rules, as I’m sure many of you have.
It’s hard at times to not feel a bit cheated or even a bit jealous of my friends who have incredible, full relationships with their mothers. These lucky pepople who get to count their mothers amongst their best friends, and see these awesome women for who they really are.
I never got the opportunity to see my mother as a person who was separate from me. At the time she died, she was still responsible for me; and still, in my opinion, trying to fence me in and keep me from who I wanted to be.
I don’t know about you, but when I was fourteen, no one understood me and everything in my life was designed to keep me from realising my very attainable dream of becoming a tattooed back-up singer/stripper for Aerosmith.
Now, in adulthood, there are so many things that I would want to say to her. With every year that passes, there is so much more I understand about her, without ever really having known her. This Mother’s Day I’d like to share some of these thoughts with you in case you have a similar story, or in case you have teenagers now and you think that they might never understand you. Eventually they will.
1. You were right about everything.
It was easier to fight you and tell you that you didn’t know anything than it was to try and understand your point of view. You were making the right decisions for me and you were loving me so hard that at times it was suffocating. This is not a bad thing. I’m sorry if I made you feel like it was.
2. You never had it easy.
When you were my age you had two children under the age of seven, were going to school and working as well as managing a household and helping us to tie our shoes and use the potty. I can barely feed myself and pay my rent on time. You were nailing life and I didn’t have a clue. I’m sorry if I ever made things unnecessarily harder for you.
3. You were never an embarrassment.
I’m ashamed when I think back now on all the times I wouldn’t let you kiss me in public or when I would screw my face up when people told me how much I looked like you. I wasn’t comfortable enough in my own skin, it had nothing to do with you at all and I’m sorry that I hurt you. I didn’t know how mean I was being. I love it when people tell me I look like you, you were beautiful.
4. I always loved you.
I hated the hospital and I despised your cancer. Pulling away from you was my way of coping with the thought of losing you. Although you never saw it, I cried. I cried a lot, but felt my tears would never be any help to you and I thought you’d feel better about leaving me if you thought I was strong.
I wasn’t strong. I was a mess, I can tell you that now, but at the time I thought I was doing the right thing. I’m sorry you never knew how much I needed you and how much your illness and eventually your dying affected me. Not a second went by that I didn’t love you. I’m sorry I made it so hard for you to love me.
5. I’m OK.
I made it through adolescence relatively unscathed and my twenties were brilliant. I’ve done so much that you would never have approved of and plenty that would terrify you, but I reckon you’d have been rooting me on the whole time.
When I moved to NYC, you were with me and now in London I see things everyday that you’d love. I’m sorry I made you worry about me. In those years and months before you died I went off the rails and you probably left this earth terrified for who I’d become. Well, by anyone’s standards, I turned out alright and so much of that is because of you.
I’d like to think that if you were still around, we’d get wine-drunk together and laugh about my youthful hijinks. You had a great laugh. Thankfully I’ve got the same one.
To all of you who are without a parent, I hope that these days reminding you to celebrate them aren’t too hard. I hope that remembering them gets a little less painful and more joyful each time and that you might like to try this exercise too. Holding onto old guilt or pain can’t be good for you, and though it may never go away completely, it will certainly lessen over time.
Our parents, be they present or not, are part of who we are. Despite having had such a short time with her, I am my mother’s daughter. Though I can never go back in time and alter the past, I can learn from my mistakes and live my life mindfully, with kindness and in a way that would hopefully make her proud.