***This note was originally written and published on May 8th, 2011. In light of the pain and struggles many nonbelievers face when it comes to family members, Mother’s Day can be particularly trying for many. It is for them – as well as others who battle emotionally with this holiday (including myself) – that I am republishing this piece. It is another area where we are not alone. Happy Day to all.*** ~ Mandisa
As we arrive at yet another Mother’s Day, I have some things on my mind that I wanted to share. I know that this is one of the most popular and highly celebrated holidays of the calendar year. For many it is a joyous occasion – as it should be. A mother (motherlike guardian)’s responsibility is not easy, and it is great to have a day set aside to acknowledge our hard work and achievements. However, there are many who cannot express this sentiment about their mothers – for very good reasons – and this is what I need to speak on for a moment.
Although there are many mothers that have raised their children and gave them plenty of love and support, there are just as many women who have either abandoned their child(ren), have been and are abusive, and planted some very damaging mental seeds that has handicapped their offspring in some fashion. Whether it is a false sense of obligation, the fear of never living up to a standard, and/or unrealistic expectations from others, these factors often prohibit children from leading healthy, independent lives. Many children have been made to believe that they should still honor these women inspite of these actions, which over time can lead to resentment, anguish, and apathy. They often feel (and have been made to feel by many well meaning, yet still misguiding family members and friends) as if they are at fault for why these things occurred, and that it is their responsibility alone to overcome that pain. I have encountered many individuals that have recalled less than loving experiences with their mothers, and yet they still feel that because they were given birth to and were financially provided for that there is still a need to put this being on a pedestal – which is not deserved. Some KNOW that it is not deserved, but with the stigma of such a holiday, it is considered blasphemy to speak ill of one’s mother – no matter how awful the experience. So they are faced with either keeping the pain to themselves, or expressing very openly – often to the dismay of others that are not honest with themselves about similar backgrounds. In any case, the level of discomfort is always present and can lead to very heartbreaking results (ostracism, depression, etc). This cannot be overlooked, and it is time for us to take an honest look at what many have been apprehensive to speak about for so long.
What we as parents – and especially as mothers – must remember is that it is mandatory to provide for our children and give them the love and support they need and deserve. As I stated before, it is not easy – in fact it is often very frustrating and can cause us to make mistakes along the way. But nothing is worse than when a parent places unnecessary blame and unfair burdens on children that can scar them for the rest of their lives. And it is even worse when children think they have no recourse other than to accept what happened to them and hold these people to a place of honor where there is none. When a parent messes up, it is OUR responsibility to fix the problem – and when a child expresses that you have done something hurtful to them, LISTEN – no matter how painful it may be to do so. No one is perfect by any means, and children will respect you more in the long run when you show that you are learning with them – as well as FROM them.
So I say to all those that are celebrating Mother’s Day with genuine appreciation, I wish you and yours a very Happy Day. And to those of you that cannot, I truly understand and I hope you have a great day still. No one has the right to discount your painful experience, and if speaking out gives you closure then by all means speak out loud. You are not alone at all. As for me, this holiday is dubious at best – I cannot say that I had the worst experience with my mother, but it definitely has not been the best and I am pushing for accountability as a result. But in the meantime, I don’t let that stop me from being the best mother I can be to my children. My pain doesn’t have to be theirs too, and because I recognize that I am at peace.
Have a great day! 🙂