A few days
after Christmas, I received an Etsy gift card in my email inbox. The note
attached simply said, “Merry Christmas and best wishes for a great 2014! Lots of
It caught me
off guard. I hadn’t heard from my mother in several years, and I hadn’t had a
relationship with her in nearly 20. My dad took full custody of me when I
was 13. I don’t mean that he was simply the custodial parent, with my mom
receiving visitation on holidays and weekends—I mean, he took full custody. I never had another visit
with my mother again.
that was sporadic. I was an angry teenager, as could probably be expected. The
years before my father took custody were ugly, with my mother making a lot of
horrific decisions at the expense of her children.
When I was 15, she told my
father she wanted a relationship with me again. After a long talk, he consented—so long as she agreed to a few terms, one of them being family counseling for
both her and me. We didn’t
hear from her again. Apparently it had been too much to ask.
Still, this random
gift certificate wasn’t something I would put past her. When I was 26, I
received a Facebook friend request from her. That was it—just the request. No
message or mention of the fact that we hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in
nearly four years at that point. Just a friend request, as though that was the
most logical way in the world to open up the doors of communication.
I denied it.
I look into her eyes, and I feel a love so real and pure that I lose all ability to comprehend the choices my own mother once made.
As an adult,
I wouldn’t say I carry hatred toward my mother. I understand
why she is the way she is, and the personal struggles she endured that made it
so difficult for her to simply see me
as a child. I have compassion for her, and all that she has experienced. But I
do harbor a strong need to separate myself from her. She has tried, on several
occasions, to be a part of my life once more now that I am grown and am no
longer in need of a mother in the way that I once was. The last attempt was a
few years ago. I have remained closed off to each of those attempts, though. The
truth is I just do not believe we could ever have a healthy relationship. I
had no choice in much of what happened during my childhood, but I get that say now. I get to choose who I
allow to be in my life today.
In the end,
I’m actually not sure it was even from her. It turned out to be a gift card in
Canadian dollars, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Etsy customer service
agreed to cancel it, without sharing any information about the actual sender, but my guess is that this gift card was meant for someone else. Likely someone
with an e-mail address simply similar to my own.
thing got me thinking though, once more, about what it means to be a motherless
daughter, and now a motherless mother. I hear all the time that we are
destined to repeat the mistakes of our parents, but I can’t imagine that same
fate for myself. I look at my daughter, and I know in my heart that I could
never walk away from her—not for any reason, or under any circumstances. She
is my life. My breath. My everything.
having her has made me want to build that wall between my own mother and
myself even higher. Because I look into my daughter's eyes, and I feel a love so real and
pure that I lose all ability to comprehend the choices my own mother once made.
I look into her eyes, and I know I would sacrifice everything for her safety
and happiness. I will make mistakes, I have no doubt about that, but there will
never be a day in her entire life when she does not know my love.
I am a
motherless mother, which means that I never had the greatest example of what
being a mother should be.
But I know
exactly what it shouldn’t be.
And that is a
lesson I will carry with me, always.