Mother’s Day was just a few weeks ago and I must admit, I was in my feelings in every way one could think of. My sister and I were heading back from Vegas and had a serious heart to heart conversation about our past, our mothers and actually being mothers ourselves. I must admit, the conversation became overwhelming and a sense of anger came over me.
Next, I go on Instagram (same day) and see a beautiful picture of the Harvey twins with their mother and brother. In the caption, was a link to an article their mother wrote titled, “Beyond Motherhood” and it was beautifully written. She talked about her difficulties with letting them go and how the older they got the harder it was for her to let them go. Now, as a mom, I totally understand that feeling of “fear of letting go” and allowing your child to blossom into their own. Yet, hoping that they will do so with the values and lessons you as their mother have instilled in them along the way. My children are still young, so I get exactly how she may have felt even when they were preschoolers and soon to be middle schoolers because these are the age ranges of my children today. Nonetheless, it still upset me. Why? Well, because I actually became jealous.
My mother became a mother at the tender age of 17. The blessing in disguise for me was that she was a “true” 17 year old child, which left me to be raised by my grandmother. But the unfortunate part was that, my mother’s nurturing flame never ignited. Therefore, in a weird way, I felt like we have always had a sister type of bond rather than one of a mother and daughter. Yet, still feeling like my bond with my sisters are stronger than the one she and I share. Anyways, the point is that, my mother has never catered to my emotional needs nor has she ever had an in depth heart to heart conversation with me. My mother was severely disconnected emotionally and in a sense it still bothers me. Did she love me? Yes, I believed so. And that’s because as a child I only heard her say it by default. Meaning, always overhearing her on the phone, always indirectly, never said directly to me.
Now, please do not get her character confused with her inability to nurture me. At heart, she cares about people and their well-being. She wants people to be safe, happy and in a good space. She would hand one the shirt off of her back if one were in need of it. The difference I’m trying to stress is that she’s good at helping others but she is not as good at expressing her love to others. Make sense? No? Okay. My mother do not believe in seeing people down and ass out. She believes in lending a helping hand. And I believe she thought her job as a mother was done because I was safe and secure with my grandmother. She financially helped/provided for me as well, and because of that, she thought she was doing her job. Still, not realizing that it takes a heck of a lot more to raise a child, like being there emotionally. As her daughter, I have always honored her as my mother. However, I have also created some space between us to keep us in a good place, in good standing with one another. Only because I struggle. I struggle during holidays, birthdays and other special occasions; mainly because my emotions take over and I start to over analyze her and think about all that she missed, all that she did not do for me, and all that she thought was not a big deal, though it was to me. The crazy thing about it all is that, I totally get why. She was a child. A child trying to care for a child. Do I blame her? Not all the time. I know that her mother was also a child raising children and truthfully, she was not taught how to be there emotionally. Her head was not in mothering, she was just a mother. But! I question, when will it get there?
For me, mothering is what Ms. Harvey describes in “Beyond Motherhood”. Simply because anyone can join the tribe of motherhood, but beyond that is what I call mothering. Those emotions you have about your child that seems silly to have, those constant worries about their safety, those talks that need to be had to ensure they develop into a true, kind human being. I believe my mother did what she thought was best with the hand that she was dealt. However, as a mother whom is in tuned with my children’s emotional needs, I see why I have the feelings I have and where I feel she could have done just a little bit more to make me feel like she tried beyond what she saw fit. Do I love her any less? No! But I silently and desperately want so much more from her, even today. Which is why I strive to give my children all of me. So this is why I get jealous. I get jealous seeing and hearing about special moments others may have with their mothers because I never had it. I even feel it in moments where I make an effort for my children, because I get that feeling of, I wish I had this. Most of the times that I feel lost and alone is due to the fact that I am unable to go to my mother and vent about certain things. (Which I think contributed to my depression.) Honestly, most times it is not because I feel she does not care, it is because she’s incapable to stay on topic. She’d either turn the story into a story about herself and/or she will tell her sisters. My mother does not believe in keeping a secret from her sisters. For me, that is a problem because as much as I love my aunts, I would tell them myself if I wanted to share my business. I just feel that, a mother is that one go to person for any and everything and I feel unfortunate because I do not have that. I could go to her and talk to her, but there is no connection. And I have to be prepared to hear about someone else, get cut off and/or begin to uplift her instead. Also, it makes me feel misunderstood and judged by her, and I get enough of that from outsiders. Judged because she does not understand me, not because she does not accept me. I feel and know that she accepts me, but I do not think it is for who I am as a woman but only for who I am to her, her daughter. With that said, I do believe she is confused about who I am as a woman, as an individual and it saddens me.
The crazy part about all of this, is that I can also see the societal effects that she was unable to defeat. I just wish that she was strong enough to overcome her hardships and especially the ones that has mentally crippled her to think beyond her pain. I also wish she was capable to stick to her truths publicly and learn to say the word “no” without feeling guilty for saying it. My mother tried to live an adult life as a child and missed out on a lot. I get it! For that reason, I think that she is trying to make up for what she missed in that time of her life because she chose to give life to my brother and me.
Look! I can go on and on, but the point is for all my readers that are mothers to take another minute, hell, just a second for your children and listen to what they are saying. Do not question them with “why” as if they are stupid or looked down upon. Their “why” will not suffice your reasoning for “why” anyways. Try to ask more “what” questions with less of an attitude, they sound less accusatory. Give them a slow yes over a fast no. Especially if your only reason for no is because you do not feel like it. Truthfully, they did not choose this life. Mothering is beyond motherhood, joining the club is the easiest part. Mothering is considering that little person beyond your feelings and yourself. Think about it!
4 thoughts on “Mothering”
My mother was a young 20 year old away from her family. We never had a real close relationship; however I adjusted and understood at a young age she was not that woman. We have our disagreements about my upbringing. She is the same woman, who would give her shirt off her back and love her grandchildren dearly. There was a disconnect with us. She was taught how to provide and the emotional “stuff” would work it’s way out. No hugs or kisses when needed as a pre teen, teen or even now. I had to break that cycle with my child. Keep blogging, you are reaching others who continue to struggle at times. Love Ya
Because of how you love I would of never guessed it. But for the same reason, I’m not surprised. Thanks for sharing. Love you too!
Meia thanks for writing this. This is my same story. My mom came from an abusive background, married at 15, had my sister at 16 and me at 17. She never knew outward love and affection and certainly didnt know how to show it. Although she vowed to break the cycle of abuse we lacked much. I vowed to be different than her and my children’s lives are so much different than mine. But I know that I could have been so much more affectionate too. I lived for those boys pouring everything into them, talking to them, sharing with them, teaching, guiding- making sure they knew without a doubt they were loved and approved of and “enough”- things I always questioned.. but I realize now that physical affection still alluded me and I could have told them I loved them more as they grew older. It was easier as they were little. But as they grew older it was harder without me really knowing it. Our talks and closeness didnt change. But their need for that affirmation of love and affection didnt either- but somehow it became harder for me. Its hard to give what you never received. But when I realized that I began to make a concerted effort. We can change the cycles of pain and hurt. We just have to realize what they are and they sometimes are layers deep. And being honest with our children about our weaknesses is sometimes necessary.
LuAnn, I want to begin by thanking you for your support. I had no idea! This actually means more than you could imagine. Secondly, absolutely! The difficult conversations that we may view as a disappointment to our children are necessary so that they too can help us, teach us along the way and hold us accountable on “being different than.” I believe in honesty and when I don’t think the answer is age appropriate, I don’t lie, I say, “we can talk about this when you get a little older.” This keeps the doors open for so many other questions and conversations, whether difficult or simple. Kudos to you for not ignoring your mistakes though you did not know any different. The efforts that you all are intentionally making together will teach them sooner than you realized. You’re breaking a generational curse now. Salute!