Mother’s Day is a time in which the sentiment from my childhood temporarily overshadows my appreciation for the life I’ve worked to have as an adult. I’m still hesitant to share all the details but it’s been on my heart for a while now and today didn’t make it much easier, as I begin planning my own family and eventually becoming a mother.
I rarely share the details of my childhood because frankly, I don’t think anyone really wants to hear about the pain I endured. Seeing my mother battered in every way imaginable, into a crying mess, lead me to not share the 70% of my childhood with friends because I saw what weakness looked like. It was not pretty in my home between my parents, and weakness was a power struggle instead of a normal aspect of humanity.
I try not to dwell on the mistakes my parents made in parenting and with one another, including in front of me… repeatedly, because it shaped me into this overweight blob of semi-alright tenacious feminism that I am today.
No amount of tenacity or accomplishment can undo the loss of a Mother who is still alive, yet very much absent, and was for many years. Loss is trauma, and we all endure traumas, just with different colors and time-stamps. I just happened to lose my Mother twice in my childhood and then once again, a few years ago.
Spurred by my Father’s alcoholism, my Mom didn’t seem happy for a long time. She began to use drugs, or maybe my Dad used alcohol to cope with her drugs. Either way, as a child I quickly could tell when either were up, down, and when the two were clashing in their decent or ascent to escapism from the other and realities of raising a child birthed when they were both 16.
A few years ago, my Mom finally left my Dad. By left, I mean my Mom got to the point of filing a restraining order, which was a big step forward for her, yet she didn’t have much of a plan for after that, as I am told. I remember talking to her when she was getting her stuff out of their house while my father was in jail, and I could tell my questions as to what she’d do next, were only adding to her anxiety and fear. Fear my Father would find her, fear she would end up back in the situation she’d not known how to fully escape for 30 years, fear she’d make too many mistakes in fleeing. I can only imagine the worry she felt.
The last time I spoke to my Mom, she called me, crying, on my birthday two years ago, which was the same year she’d relocated, changed her number, and refused to tell anyone where she was, including me. “I love you very much but I can’t talk to you- I am too scared someone will find me somehow, and I can’t risk that now. Just know I am thinking of you and hope you have a happy birthday.” -CLICK-
I share these years of memories and last phone call with my Mom not for pity, not for anything else, beyond raising awareness to the that pain anyone, regardless of gender or relationship, feels when they are in really bad situations- even if they caused many of those outcomes. I pray my Mom is alive, healthy, flourishing, confident, and more empowered than she was as a wife and mother. I pray my Dad is okay too. He can’t afford to keep a phone after literally losing everything with the divorce. I understand not everything that happened was actually his fault. I love both my parents, no matter the outcome or adverse impact they created for me in figuring out what the hell “normal” looks like as an adult, as a Wife, and as a Mother.
To the few who may read this, support doesn’t mean waiting for someone to reach out. Kindness is support and there is always a need. This Mother’s Day, I hope the same kindness a Mother has shown you, can be paid forward. The hurt, shame, guilt, fear, or anything else behind someone’s smile is usually beyond fathoming. If you suspect someone has no idea where to start, even reading about spousal abuse is a great start.
To my Mom, I don’t know where you are, I don’t know what you’re doing today, but I love you and know you’re in my heart, and I love you.