It seems like a wonderful idea; a day to celebrate the most giving, caring and nurturing person in your life. The person who gave you life and raised you, perhaps with the help of another, or perhaps alone, to become the person you are. A day to acknowledge mothers all over the UK who deserve to be pampered and looked after and put-first, even if only for today.
Indeed, it is a great idea. I’m a big fan of it; especially since I became a mother, 28 years ago. However, as an adopted child, and as a child who is estranged from her adopted family too, I have mixed emotions each year as the cards begin to appear in the shops. I find myself staring out of windows and contemplating “what ifs” that become more ridiculous as the frenzy builds. Radio adverts and reminders to buy gifts, or make lunch or ‘just give mum a cuddle’ seem to bring emotions out that I had not anticipated. From anger to fear, from instant tears to derisory laughter, I run a marathon of emotions by lunch time that leave me seeking silence for the rest of the day.
Not every mother-daughter relationship is worth celebrating; and that is ok. Seriously, it has taken me until the age of fifty to be able to add the last bit. It is ok to not think of your mum as your best friend. It is ok to not look forward to her phone calls or visits. It is ok to be real about how she makes you feel and to just “be ok” with that. I know it sounds like I’m making that seem simple and it is far from that. However, it is a choice to accept that you can be ok with it. That it might take work, there might be days when you struggle with being ok with it, and that at times you’ll decide “this is bulls*** of course I’m not ok with it, I want to fix our relationship” and that is ok too.
All I’m suggesting is that, once you’ve given yourself permission to move on from the “if only” you still carry around, you can begin to let go of a lot of baggage. I know that I carried mine for most of the last 35 years. When I finally acknowledged that it was ok to not have either of the women in my life who had been my mother, and instead to focus on the incredible young woman in my life to whom I was a mother, I think I actually began to like myself. I began to see what a great mum I was too.
That’s the great thing about letting go of our baggage; we’ve got the energy available for new things and feel more able to manage change and make choices. No longer weighed-down with unrealistic expectations or regrets, we can become open to positive thoughts to replace the often-reinforced habitual negative ones. The positive self-talk I use in my head these days, far outnumbers the negatives, I know this change has come since I let go of the daily reinforcement of my mother’s negative words, that had long been part of my own self-bashing,
This weekend, my daughter will be here after a couple of weeks away. I’m hoping we’ll get some time together to talk about everything and nothing, to hang-out for a bit with a coffee in our woodland and perhaps even watch a movie together. Being around her reminds me I love being a mum. It also reminds me of all the women in my life who are amazing mothers that will be spending the day being pampered and loved and appreciated.
Five years ago I wrote a letter to my birth mother and another to my adopted mother on Mother’s Day. I never posted either of them, and last year I dug them out and threw them in our Rayburn. I didn’t even bother to re-read them. I knew what I’d written and I knew I deserved to move on. That process of letting go has allowed me to look forward with less dread to Mother’s Day this year and instead, focus on being appreciated as a mum.