For me, it’s hard to find the words to convey what it is like to be a Motherless daughter. It means something different at every stage in my life. Hope Edelman wrote in her book “Motherless Daughters” about wanting to shout to everyone that her mom died because it sums up so much of who she is. I get that. The only thing that has impacted me greater than losing my Mom at the age of 15 has been becoming a Mom myself.
Not all of the sadness comes from not having that person who you know above all would answer your call or would have a piece of advice whether or not you want it. My sadness has morphed in to comprehending the absence of time needed to know your mom beyond being your Mom. My Mother was a beautiful kind of chaos. A kind of chaos that rears it’s fury all over my own thoughts, reactions and emotions. I know it’s there…I can feel the connection. I just wish I could see it in her eyes these days. That my daughter could see the
common fragile thread that exists between me and the woman that created me so that when she gets older, she’ll be able to not only see but understand and embrace the kind of crazy we share.
My Mother’s battle with mental illness and addictions prevented her version of mothering to be found in any how-to book; however, I still crave to know what her answers would have been to the questions I need to ask her about how I am suppose to mother. It’s unsettling that no matter how dysfunctional or even neglectful your Mother may be, you still love her and want her in your life. She is the first piece of my story and it is the piece I know the least about because of the point in my, and her ,life when I lost her.
No body goes to a school and learns the tricks of the trade on parenting but most have that go-to professor she calls Mom. That’s the void that I live with in my heart. However, I have been blessed with women landing in my life for reasons I am just now starting to really understand. Women that if were asked to gather in a small space, would form a shape that fits perfectly inside the void in my heart left when my Mom died. These women have molded me by offering divinely designed doses of lessons my Mom may or may not have been able to teach me… had she had enough time.
These women, have taken many forms. A sister that cared for me (and still does) when there was no body left to do the job and that understood that her sheer presence in my life was a matter of tipping the scales towards history NOT repeating itself. A teacher who created lesson plans out of thin air just so she could carry me under her wing for a little while longer. A co-worker and friend that gave me a glimpse of what recovery could have looked like for my own Mother and shared her many lessons learned along the way. A coach that hugged me and then told me to get up when I fell and try harder. A friend that no matter how dark or mundane it gets, has the power to raise me up and keep me laughing. A boss that didn’t accept my judgments of people presenting weaker than me and pointed my heart in the right direction to help instead of judge. A college professor that supported my quest to identify a diagnosis that best suited my Mother’s actions and personality. Not one but two single Moms who opened their doors to me when I rebelled the hardest and needed love the most. A soul sister’s Mother who embodied what a Mother should look like and taught me the power of prayer. And a woman, my Mother’s, brother’s daughter, who by no coincidence, I connected with to ensure that I knew I was not alone.
So Mom…I say this to you with a broken but healing heart. I understand why you couldn’t be the one to parent and/or, in the flesh, support me in parenting my own. The only beauty in your departure has been the grace in which these other Moms have and continue to imprint my life. I have grown from a Mother-less daughter to a daughter or many Mothers.