For those of us who are mothers next Sunday can mean breakfast in bed, flowers, carefully decorated cards made of construction paper, and lots of hugs.
Aside from the sweetness bestowed upon us by our loved ones, Mother's Day can dredge up a lot of feelings. Similar to other holidays when we know we should be enjoying the festivities, memories and old wounds loom causing a bitterness amidst the sweet moments of happiness.
My relationship with my own mother has me anticipating this day with a sort of bitter sweetness that I'd like to address for myself and for any of you who can relate. Your story may not match mine exactly, but chances are some of you share the bittersweet sentiment whatever your relationship with your mother was or if she's no longer here.
The mother-daughter bond is one of the strongest imaginable, I haven't the time to research this theory thoroughly, but Christianne Northrup has written a great deal on the matter in Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Understanding the Crucial Link Between Mothers, Daughters, and Health which I recommend every mother or daughter read.
My mother has had a drug addiction going back to my earliest memories at around age five. It may have been longer, but I can't recall. Her addiction has spanned the spectrum from alcohol to the hardest of the hard drugs and in quantity. Her lifestyle brought us into dangerous situations, rendered us homeless and caused pain that at times still hurts.
Last year on Mother's Day was the last time I spoke to my mother. We'd tried to reforge our relationship after a five year hiatus. She hadn't even met one of my children. She had made promises of sobriety and for a time it felt good to reestablish a connection, have a mom to talk to, share my life with and even call upon for the little things, "How do I get an olive oil spill out of linen? What's Aunt Edna's address?" I should have known better, I should have made mightier fortifications. I looked away when the familiar signs of drug use reappeared as they so often did when I was a child, after she had spent time in rehab. Because I didn't, the crush was harder when it became readily apparent what I was dealing with, revisiting ghosts of the past.
During that convoluted conversation I realized it would be our last. What do you do when for thirty years you beg and plead that a person take care of them self, intervene, actually take care of them, do everything and anything to support them, open your heart and let it bleed? I've been through this before, a dozen times. She falls apart, I fall apart watching her fall apart and then all I can do is put myself back together again.
I've been to the adult children of alcoholic (addict) meetings. I've been to therapy. I've gained a very deep understanding of the various processes: addiction, healing, mourning and yet it is still excruciating to go through. I can't separate my mind and what I know from what my heart feels.
There is nothing more for me to do for her. It is time to let go. In the past year I have contemplated and prayed, I have shouted from a mountain top, "Please heal!" for both her and for myself. I've come to realize on a new level of understanding that the best I can do is accept and respect my wholeness, that with her or without her I am a complete person and though it hurts I owe the gift of personal integrity, self-love and happiness to myself. I can offer that to my children. That is what I can do for myself and the relationship I have with my own children.
I meet this Mother's Day with a lingering trepidation mixed with a strength in my resolve to be my best self for my children, my mother and myself. I hope this story offers light if there is any shadow for you this Mother's Day. The Serenity Prayer offers me guidance and comfort when the shadow seems to get darker or linger.