Avoiding The Mother’s Day Card Aisle

My parents separated when I was 6 or 7. After that, my dad moved my siblings and me from Baltimore, MD to Atlanta. My mother remained in Baltimore. So my father was a single dad. When he couldn’t take care of us alone; his parents took us in. I moved to south Georgia to be raised by my grandparents.

I didn’t really have a relationship with my mother growing up. I always felt like a piece of my heart was missing. My grandmother was my mother in some ways. It was hard because I wanted my grandmother to be my grandmother and not my mother too. I became angry at my mom for not being there for me. I was the only kid who didn’t have a mom at school. It was really difficult for me. My grandmother and I were close and when she died in 1996, I felt like in some ways I lost my mom.

Growing up, I would have some contact with my mother but it was minimal. If I was asked, I would say she had died. It was easier than talking about being abandoned by her. I hated and dreaded Mother’s Day. My relationship wasn’t in the card section of the store. I resented that section and it made me mad I didn’t have a mother/daughter relationship. I desperately wanted that relationship and was envious of my friends who had moms in their lives. I was lonely because of this. 

When I turned 21, I decided to write my mother a letter expressing how I felt growing up without her. I sent her the letter in hopes of finding peace and closure. Also to possibly start a relationship. My mother wrote me back and asked for a relationship and accepted the offer. Our relationship at that time consisted of letters and phone calls. I was happy to have a relationship with her but I still mourned. I decided I needed therapy to address my issues concerning her and my childhood. In therapy, I learned to forgive her and be at peace with myself and our relationship. 

Even though she was not able to do all the mother/daughter stuff that comes when a daughter gets married; I was glad she came to my wedding in 2005. It had been 21 years since I had seen her. When I saw her for the first time, it was nice and we had a nice talk. I really enjoyed having her at my wedding. Since then, we call and see each other often. 

In 2010, I became a mother to a beautiful precious girl. Zoe’s birth brought up some new feelings of not having a mother growing up. I became resentful and bitter again. I worked out those feelings and began to fully make peace with my motherless childhood and I forgave my mother. It was then I decided to fully embrace Mother’s Day. I needed to do this so I could become the mother my children needed me to be. Becoming a mother taught me empathy for my mother. Motherhood is hard and sometimes you have to make decisions that need to be made. That’s what my mother did. I’m grateful for her doing what was best for me at the time. 

Mother’s Day is a day I look forward to a mom of two. I’m a mother to a free-spirited 7-year-old daughter and a very active 3-year-old son who is into everything. We usually spend the day at the park or home watching our favorite movies together. Zoe and Jax have taught me so much about unconditional love. I can’t imagine not being in their life. Even when days are tough; they bring me joy. They have helped me heal in ways I couldn’t have imagined. My mother is in their life as their doting grandmother who spoils them rotten. We have a good relationship now and I enjoy talking to her weekly on the phone. In July, my family and I are going to visit her and other family in Pennsylvania. We are excited about the trip. 

I still can’t find a card for the relationship I have with my mother but I’ve made my own path. I don’t shop the card section for Mother’s Day either. Instead, I send my mother a homemade card from my kids. I have become the mother my own mother wanted to be but couldn’t. This has brought me peace. I have learned from her mistakes. 

If you find yourself in the card section without a mom, know, it’s ok. Some of us have had to disconnect from our moms due to toxic abusive relationships or like me, didn’t have a mom growing up. Then there are those of us who had a mother pass away when we were young. The card section alone cannot define our motherhood or relationship with our own mothers. Take your time to mourn and if needed; seek professional help. My goal is to be a good mom to my own kids and to be there for them. I want to be to them the mother I needed and deserved growing up.  

Mother’s Day was once a hard and unbearable holiday. Now it is filled with laughter and joy. On this day I celebrate my own imperfect motherhood and the other moms out there, like me, who don’t have moms in the card section of the store. Know it’s ok to mourn and grieve the mother you needed,  wanted, or didn’t have as a child. You are not alone. Give yourself the gift of grace and be the mom you needed growing up to your own children. Most of all enjoy your day with your family. Happy Mother’s Day to you. 

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5 Responses to Avoiding The Mother’s Day Card Aisle

  1. Alison
    Alison May 10, 2018 at 10:29 am #

    Thank you for sharing this. I have often thought about the card section and how it doesn’t address all types of relationships. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

    • Colleen May 10, 2018 at 10:44 am #

      You are welcome. Happy Mother’s Day to you too.

  2. Ashley May 10, 2018 at 10:55 am #

    Beautiful and brave! I’m so glad you shared this. So many can relate. 💕

  3. Catherine
    Catherine May 11, 2018 at 8:41 am #

    Colleen – you are so correct; the card section misses much. Your journey is one of strength and grace and your openness about seeking professional help is much appreciated. Motherhood is not easy, and is not for everyone – whether you birth them or not.

  4. Julia May 12, 2018 at 7:57 am #

    This is such a beautiful story and thank you for sharing!!!