Today is Mother's Day, the time of year when we shower our mother's with flowers, hugs, and lots of love. Today is also the busiest day of the year for restaurants in the United States because guess what? People love their mothers. When I think about this day, I feel numb. I love my mother, but for most of my life our realtionship was confusing and hard to understand.
As I scroll through instagram, (a deadly task that I try to avoid and always regret when I fall fate to the observations of others lives) and look at all the photographs of daughters sharing photos of experiences they have had with their mothers: A trip to the zoo, snorkeling in a tropical ocean, riding bikes in a quaint mountain town, and taking selfies together with two cute teacups in hand at a quirky cafe, I can't help but wish I had a photograph like that with my mother. I'm not envious of these people with warrior-like mothers and their adventurous spirits. I'm happy for them. I adore seeing people's strong, active, preserving mothers. The world needs more mothers like them. I simply can't relate.
The majority of my mother's life went like this: She wakes up to a glorious sunny day and says for the hundredth time, "Going to be another dreary day," and then she goes back to sleep, often for the remainder of the day. Depression ruled my mother's life. It made a nice little home inside her mind and lived there for the majority of my childhood. Her depression left her incapable to do anything, even a five-minute walk around our neighborhood was too much work. Her depression morphed into other things: paranoia, fear, shame, guilt, isolation, and at times talk of suicide. Her depression made me angry. For an unhealthy portion of my life I was mad at my mother. Why couldn't she throw on a sweatshirt and come to one of my basketball games? Why did she promise to come to my college graduation dinner and fail to show up again? My mind swirled in a pit of broken promises from mom, and I was mad.
I was mad because I was hurt.
I was desperate for her to be a part of my life. When depression decided to take a nice little vacation, which I wish was more of a permanent move across country, the desired part of my mom came back. When depression left, my mother was a delightful woman to be around. She had a sharp sense of humor. She never took herself too seriously, and laughed at all her own jokes, even if only she thought they were funny. She was a free-spirit with a deep appreciation for the arts. She signed me up for pottery classes, took me to plays, enrolled me in dance classes, and when money was tight she found a theater class that agreed to let me partake for free. She was wildly fun too. With mom, we didn't need any video games or TV to keep us entertained. She was enough. She told stories. She danced. She sang. She was a charming, exuberant human with a heart of gold. Countless times, when money was tight, mom would slip me her last $20 dollar bill so I could go to the movies with my friends while she settled for scoops of Jiffy peanut butter for dinner. She was a great mom, when depression left.
Despite the amazing mother she could be, the stack of meaningful memories I have with my mom isn't nearly as big as the pile of heartaches I carry from her, but being angry doesn't help anything. In fact, anger is the result of deep pain. All my bitterness and resentment towards my mother was not because I didn't love her. It was because all I wanted was her love.
If you have a strained relationship with your mother or one that has suffered from severe depression, like mine, I encourage you to take a moment to ponder what it must have been like to be her. When we have mercy for those that have hurt us, compassion is born, and when compassion arrives we are no longer angry because alas, we can forgive. If you are struggling to forgive a wounded relationship with your mother remember being angry at someone only creates more turmoil in your life.
Today I encourage you to forgive the mother that has hurt you, abandoned you, or made you feel unworthy. Reflect on her positive qualities, let the anger dismantle, and remember no matter what heartaches we may feel from our mothers, we will never know what it was like to be them. When I reflect on my realtionship with my mom, I know she loves me. She was just doing it the best way she knew how.