Every Mother’s Day I think about writing this but I always chicken out.
I don’t want people to think I’m trying to solicit pity or that I’m trying to make something bigger than it really is.
I just want to acknowledge women who took on the adventure of Motherhood without their own Mothers by their side. I know what it’s like because I am a Motherless Mother, too.
I know all Mothers feel insecure, inadequate and fearful at times, however, they can turn to their Mothers for support, encouragement, advice, and comfort. The Motherless Mother doesn’t have that luxury.
I don’t want to sound whiny. It would be an insult to Motherless Mothers because they always want to appear strong and capable no matter how weak and helpless they feel inside.
I just think that because the Motherless Mother puts on a brave face, seems so capable and does an amazing job, that people don’t really know the secret hurdles, the private struggles, the unvoiced fears that she lives with every single day.
I’m going to tell you about some.
Starting From Behind
If someone ran a race and because of circumstances out of her control started 5 minutes later than everyone else, didn’t sleep the night before, wore ankle weights, and didn’t even know the route of the race but still finished and finished well, wouldn’t you think she deserved recognition?
That’s what I’m doing here.
Motherless Mothers embark on motherhood with, if not actual reality, at least a very real feeling of starting behind. It takes an amazing amount of courage to become a Mother when you don’t feel like you have the tools and support you need and when you feel absolutely alone and terrified.
“True courage is being afraid and going ahead and doing your job anyhow, that’s what courage is.”
The Hole In Your Soul
When your Mother is not there, for whatever reason, there’s a void. There’s an empty hole that no other person can fill. It makes you feel broken or not normal. You feel that every other woman has access to pertinent information that you are not privy to. You feel like you’re unprepared for life, marriage, motherhood. You feel that every other woman has a living, breathing handbook on life walking beside them or at least on the other end of the phone – and you don’t have that.
No other woman, no matter how close, kind and loving, can ever fill that Mom void. They can be the most considerate, open, willing support but she’s not yours. You never feel totally comfortable calling her in the middle of the night or asking those personal, embarrassing and gross questions that daughters ask their Moms. You always feel like you’re imposing, you’re using up attention that she needs to give to her “real” family. People will tell you, “It’s okay, I love helping you, it’s not a problem.” But it never feels “right.” So, you have to swallow your pride, pluck up your courage, overcome the feeling of guilt for imposing on her and call anyway for the good of your child all the while wishing you had a Mom of your own.
There is unique insecurity and loneliness that Motherless Mothers bring with them into motherhood. And it takes a lot of guts and love to approach the task from that starting point.
The Constant Search for Wisdom
Motherless Mothers always feel like they’re “winging it.” They are always questioning if this is right or that is okay. This feeling of being unprepared combined with a passionate love for their children makes Motherless Mothers some of the most knowledgable Moms around. And those looking in from the outside think there can be no better Mom in the world. But that’s not how the Motherless Mother feels. They know the facts, statistics, and up-to-date information. However, they never feel like it’s enough. Even the knowledge of professionals is taken with skepticism. Without that sage wisdom that comes from Mothers and Grandmothers, all their facts and information are colored with doubt. Because “Mother knows best” the Motherless Mother feels like she’s never able to give their child the “best.” But they keep on pushing and learning and searching anyway.
Giving What You Never Had
There is something very tender and sacrificial that happens between Motherless Mothers and their children that no one ever talks about. When their child gets sick or injured or afraid, the Motherless Mother rushes to their aid and comforts them in the best way she knows how. She usually knows really well what to do because she knows intimately what she desperately wanted but never had. She remembers when she was sick or injured or afraid and how she wished she had a Mother to hug and kiss her, to carefully and lovingly bandage her wound or calm her fears. She never had that, but she can imagine how lovely that could be. She then gives all that love, care and attention to her own child. At times there is anger and hurt that she has to muster up what she never had the privilege to experience, but in the end, the intense love for her child overshadows her bitterness and she freely gives what she never had. And it’s really kind of amazing how she finds that giving love to her own child heals her own broken heart.
That Feeling of Home
When I think of home, I think of that golden light, warm glow, smelling of freshly baked cookies and that feeling of safety that wraps its arms around you like a hug. Motherless Mothers may not have had that growing up because the Mothers are the ones often concerned with the aesthetics of a home. They care about the beauty, the light, the temperature, the feel and smell of a home. Those are the things that trigger our feelings and memories. Motherless Mothers have to, again, give from what they never had. They have to be incredibly creative and imaginative to make a home full of beauty and security without having the basic tools and training to work with. Many times the homes of the Motherless Mother are places you want to be because they never take home for granted and have spent their lives noticing the subtle differences between a home with a Mom and home without. So, they know from experience what is often missing and what is needed to achieve that feeling of “home.” Making a home is an art.
You Deserve A Standing Ovation
I’ve just mentioned a few things that make you, the Motherless Mother, truly unique. The courage, strength, creativity and the depth of your sacrificial love for your children is staggering.
I wanted people to know how truly strong you are. I wanted them to know what it takes for you to get up every day and be a superhero in disguise!
I wanted people to see that all the creativity, love, care and tenderness that flows out of you apparently so easily doesn’t come from a full well, it comes from a deep sacrificial love for your family as well as Herculian strength and determination.
I want you to know that what you think are your weaknesses or your lack is what actually makes you truly special and incredible!
You were given a challenge and you’ve met it head on and are killing it!
If you are the kind of Mother who is wracked with sadness, loneliness or are bitter because of what you never had, I encourage you to look at what greatness and heights your loss have driven you to. Your loss has become your greatness.
“She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings.”
Instead of mourning on this Mother’s Day for what you never had, celebrate YOU! You may not be able to buy your Mom a card or flowers or take her out for dinner, but you can do those things for yourself! I know you’ll feel selfish, that’s just your way, but maybe you can look at it as a gift from me.
Here’s your standing ovation!
Happy Mother’s Day!
P.S. And in case you were wondering, I did have some very special Motherless Mothers in mind as I wrote this. Some who lost their Moms early, like me, and some who have recently lost their Moms and are trying to parent adult kids. It’s unknown territory girls! I know it’s sad, but look at it this way: You’re pioneers! You have the opportunity to forge your own path YOUR own way without someone nagging you over your shoulder saying, “That’s not what I would do.” Blaze that trail!