My mother and I had a challenging relationship.
In her view, I was always criticising her for not being the mother I wanted/needed her to be. In mine, I felt like I was never the daughter she wanted/needed me to be.
As we both grew older, the tensions between us eased, but finding harmony in a relationship where we felt comfortable and free to be ourselves was a constant journey into acceptance.
When she died at 97 years of age a couple of weeks before COVID lockdowns began, we’d reached a truce. As long as I didn’t try to get her to talk about the past, which in her mind was me just trying to make trouble as I always did, we had a modicum of peace between us. It was a tentative peace, one she was not willing to put to the test, Which meant, we never spent time together alone. Which, for me meant, we never talked about the things that mattered most.
At the time, wished it could have been otherwise, but my desire to ‘clean up the past’ was to her, a recipe for pain and more hurt. Silence was our companion, the boundaries of which were not safe to cross.
After her death, she began to ‘visit’ me whenever I was in the bath. I was a tad confused and consternated by her choice of venue. She’d arrive, dressed up á la Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany fame, long ebony cigarette holder in one hand, a martini glass in the other.
You are not my mother, I told her. My mother would never be so daring.
She laughed (something I did not recall my mother doing very often in life) and replied that on this earthly plain, the burdens she carried weighed her down so much she could never be find her lightness of being.Just as she could never be the mother I wanted (needed) her to be.
That shut me up.
My mother admitting she might have failed me?
I didn’t dare say it out loud.
It didn’t matter. She laughed at my thinking.
I’m spirit, she said. I can see through all those bubbles you pile on top of you in the bath to hide your naked body and, I can read your mind. Don’t worry. On this side of life, there is no judgement, only Love.
I wrote a lot about my mother’s after-life visits. They were healing, comforting and above all, loving. They filled in the missing pieces, smoothed out the rough edges and built a pathway to understanding, forgiveness and acceptance.
My mother’s and my relationship was exactly as it was meant to be. It was the starting point of the journey that brought me here, to where I am today, grateful, accepting and loving of the path I took to get me here, to this place where I am today.
No matter its hardships, no matter my falls, my tumbles, my getting lost and losing my way, it was the path I took. I cannot change the path behind me, just as I could never change my mother.
There were a thousand paths I could have taken, a thousand things my mother and I could ahve done differently. It doesn’t matter.
It is not the path I took nor how angry or resentful of my mother i was, or how I much I judged her lacking (and wished I hadn’t) that counts today, It is how bright the light I shine on my path, how much joy and love I dance with on my journey from here that makes a difference.
My mother taught me that. After she was gone.
My mother gave me life.
For nine months she carried me in her womb, praying for my safe arrival.
She did not intend to make my journey hard or difficult. She did not intend to hurt me or cause me to doubt who I am or my worth. And she did not purposefully or knowingly do the things she did that caused me pain.
Like me, she did the best she could with the tools and resources she had. She struggled. She fell. She got back up and tried again.
She hurt. She bled. She cried. She despaired.
Yet, through it all, no matter how difficult the road she traveled, no matter how dark the night or bleak the weather ahead, she never quit doing the one thing her mother’s heart told her she must do – love the child that was me, no matter how much she did not understand, agree nor approve of the road I was on. No matter how hard I fought against her. All she could do was love the only way she could. Her way.
My mother wasn’t perfect.
But then, neither am I.
What my mother was is the one thing I can never deny, she was the woman who gave me life. She loved me as best she could no matter how difficult I sometimes made her journey.
I am grateful.
I am blessed.
And,above all, I accept, she did the best she could in the life she gave me.
And in that life she gave me, I have come to know the truth about who I am. I am not the stories I’ve told that kept me walking in the pain of believing I was never enough for my mother, the world, or myself.
I am not the things I’ve done to prove my biggest fears about how undeserving and unworthy I am are true.
I am me, because of my journey and the way my mother loved me. I am awakened to my birthright of worthiness. I am awakened to knowing, without a doubt, I am a miraculous expression of divine love and amazing grace.
My mother taught me that.
A mother is not born in giving birth. She is forged in the crucible of life’s trials and tribulations teaching her with each painful and uncertain step, to become a vessel of love that can never be broken.
It is my mother’s womb that carried me into life. It is her love that could never be broken, no matter how much I found it lacking, wanting or deficient, overwhelming or too needy, it is her love that continues to shine on the path of my life today.
For, though it is her womb that nurtured me into being, it is not the womb that connects and binds us. It is Love.
To all the mothers, however you arrived at the threshold of motherhood, no matter how far the distance between your heart and the ones you love, may you always know how beautiful, special and divinely graced the world is by your presence.
May you know how miraculous you are, in all the radiant beauty of your unique expression of your love. And may you know, deep within you, that the Love you share so selflessly and with such devotion, no matter how it is received or felt or rejected, is exactly the Love the world needs now.
Beautiful, thought-provoking, a tribute to all who have ” mothered” at some point in their lives. No relationship is perfect. The bond between a mother and child will always be there regardless of the type of relationship they may have had.
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So true Iwona. I am always fascinated by how the label ‘mother’ resonates, ignites, angers…. We place so many ‘conditions’ on what it means and how one should be as a mother — we judge and scorn. we embrace and extoll. I am a mother. I am so many other things too. ❤
Wow louise, absolutely beautifully written… I so resonate❤️🙏 wishing you a happy Mother’s Day because we all, in some way play the mothers nurturing role💃🕺🌈❤️ much love x
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So true Barbara – we all in some way, play the mothers nurturing role — a role that is critical to the well-being of this world.
I was struck by your line “after-life” visits. There are days or moments I sense my parents around me. Other days I’m busy enough I guess. Then there are moments of such pain, missing them. We all are trying at parenthood thing! No one is perfect.