Each Mother’s Day brings bittersweet emotions. When I chose to become a mother, I didn’t realize that it would entail this constant roller coaster of emotions that brings joy simultaneously with sadness.
As I watch my daughters grow up, I find it harder and harder to understand the actions of those who choose to have children and then cause them irreparable harm. I used to cope with how I was brought up by telling myself it could be worse. I wasn’t in a situation that entailed horrific abuse, and I am so unbelievably thankful for that – which is why, up until I became a mother, I wasn’t angry at my parents. But then I realized, that being left behind, being neglected, being lied to, being taken advantage of when I simply wanted a relationship with the people who were supposed to love me the most – well, that leaves a person a little worse for the wear. Especially when that person becomes a mother and comes to realize the enormity of those actions.
My father and I have come a long way since I had that realization after my first child was born seven years ago. He heard me out, he took my emotions to heart and apologized. I’ve come to an understanding as to who he is and who he will never be. I forgave him and we’ve got a relationship based on what he’s capable of with a healthy dose of caution. My girls all know him as Grandpa and they enjoy the rare card game or fishing hole excursion when we do see him. He’s actually pretty good with kids overall, he just wasn’t ready to have them at 17.
My mother was never around. I forgave her for that because I understood why. She was dealing with her own living hell and when she finally found herself out of it, I had hope that we would move on to the future together. What I didn’t realize is that she had no real attachment to me. If she did, she would not have lied to me repeatedly and taken advantage of me for her own gain. When this all came to light, I worked through it, and we tried to rebuild yet again, only to find new lies underneath the surface years later. I grappled with the decision to permanently cut ties for a very long time. It’s very hard to let go of that vision of a mother-daughter relationship. I had spent many years with other women acting as ‘mom’ – it was hard to believe that they could show more love and honor than my actual mother, but they did. They’re why I’m ok. When a person continues to manipulate and lie to you to help themselves, you come to realize you have to simply wish them well and move on. So that’s what I did.
The scars remain. The hurt still weighs on my heart. The pain sometimes makes it hard to breathe.
I can’t imagine a day without my girls, so I don’t know how she walked away from her oldest daughter and I don’t know how, when she had the opportunity to reconnect, she took that to such a negative place. Repeatedly.
Each Mother’s Day is bittersweet as I spend the day with my daughters who give me a love I have never known before. And, to see all of the declarations from my friends to their lovely mothers who were there for them, have always been there for them and will be – to put it simply, it’s sad.
This is not to say there isn’t a need for forgiveness between mothers and daughters. Because I know I will need it from my girls. I think this is why I apologize when I have lost my temper or responded the wrong way to something. I admit my mistakes readily because I want them to know I’m human, but honesty is a given and that our relationship will be based on that.
I think I’m working my way to the letting go/forgiveness part with my mother, a lot of the anger has dissipated…it’s the heartbreak and sadness that lingers on. I suppose because I know that forgiveness doesn’t equal relationship….because it can’t. We simply can’t go back, and it’s better for my girls that they have no connection to someone with toxic decision making skills. It means, I wish her well. I hope for the best for her and her relationships with her other three children, at least she has the bonds I had hoped for, with them. I have realized that our path is no longer one together.
Although…I guess it never really was together and she made certain of that.
Have you had a toxic family member or friend in your life that you had to come to terms with letting go?