Saturday, May 7, 2016

When you don't feel worthy of being celebrated as a mother

 Mother's Day.  A day set aside to honor and celebrate mothers for their love, sacrifice, and selflessness.  Great concept.  But, what if you don't feel worthy of being celebrated?  What if you are pretty sure you are a failure as a mother?

Mother's Day 2014 I found myself in that very spot.  I was in treatment, and it just so happened that my first visit with my family (after a month of not seeing them) fell on the day before Mother's Day.  I will never forget the anticipation as I waited to see those three little faces.  They walked into the facility after being checked in, and I looked at them as if it was the first time I had ever laid eyes on them.  I immediately threw my arms around them and held them tight, then looked up to see all three of my children crying. Chad had a required session with my counselor, so she took him with her and the kids grabbed my hand. They had brought lunch, so we sat down to eat together and they presented me with cards telling me how great of a mother I was.  My then seven-year-old daughter looked up at me with those big brown eyes and said, "Here.  This is a flower I planted for you at school."  It was a scrawny looking little flower planted in a little plastic cup, and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. 

We made small talk, all while trying to avoid explaining to them what the facility was, because they had no idea that I was a drug addict.  They thought I was in a hospital.  As the clock ticked away and it drew closer to being time for them to leave, I debated begging to leave with them.  I didn't know how I could say good-bye.  I sat down in a chair, and, one by one, they each ended up on my lap....even my then sixteen-year-old.  And you know what they did?  They curled up in my lap, laid their heads on my chest......and sobbed.  And, as hard as I tried not to, I sobbed with them.  Not just because they were getting ready to leave and I would miss them, but because I could not believe that this was our life.  That I, the woman designed to comfort and protect them, was the main character in their pain.  I walked them to the door, hugged and kissed them, said good-bye, and waited as my littlest one had to be pried off of my leg.  And, you know what?  I sure didn't feel like a good mom in that moment.  I sure did not feel worthy of being celebrated.

Maybe you are there too.  Maybe you are fairly certain that you are ruining your kids lives (by the way, I continue to feel like that on a daily basis), and you don't believe you deserve a card that reads, "To the greatest Mom in the world!"  Rather, if you could design the card you reckon you warrant, it would read, "Not so dearest Mom:  You have scarred me for life." 

Maybe your kids are not even with you this year.  Maybe you recently lost custody of them because of bad choices you have made.  And, now, you can't even entertain the thought of being celebrated. 

Maybe you've had an abortion, and, although you are somewhat successful at blocking that out the majority of the time, this is that one day of the year that it consumes your mind.  You just can't forget what might have been. 

Maybe you knew that you could not provide for the baby you were carrying and you chose to give that child to someone who could.  You are quite certain you made the right decision, but, on this day, Mother's Day, you question it. 

Maybe you have a grown child and, somewhere along the way, there was a rift in the relationship.  You haven't spoken for years and you can't fathom the thought of walking to the mailbox and finding a card. 

Maybe you lost a child, whether young or grown, and all you have left are memories.  You would give anything to go back in time and receive a hand-painted terracotta pot full of scrawny little flowers. 

Maybe the desire of your heart is to be a mother, and, sadly, that has not been possible for you.  You look at all of the other mothers around you and ache that there is no one to call you by the name you have always wanted to be called....Mommy. 

I don't know what situation you are in today, but I do know what it is like to feel sad, jealous, and unworthy on Mother's Day.  Such a beautiful holiday that is so tough for so many.  And yet, we forget.  We forget that mothering is the most complicated calling we will ever receive.  We forget that we mess up, and that, most of the time, we go to sleep at night wondering if we are damaging these precious goods while simultaneously vowing to "do better tomorrow." 

Think of that woman who appears to be the perfect mom.  She has it all together, or so it seems.  You wish you could be like her, and you are pretty sure she  never raises her voice and is raising the next president or world changer (there is a teacher at my kids' school who immediately comes to mind).  Chances are, she too lays her head on her pillow at night with those same thoughts and questions.

If you have messed up along the way, your story doesn't end here.  I know, because mine didn't.  I have been given another shot at being a mother.  I am finally back home with my family and daily working on myself to be a mother that I can be proud of. 

Whatever your situation, embrace who you are this Mother's Day.  If you are trying to get clean, you deserve to be celebrated.  If you gave a child up that you knew you couldn't care for, you deserve to be celebrated.  If you cannot have children, you deserve to be celebrated.  If you struggle with depression and are merely doing the best you can do, you deserve to be celebrated. If you feel grief all day because of the life you gave that was taken from you, you deserve to be celebrated.  If you are in the process of adopting, of bringing a child who needs a mother into your home, you deserve to be celebrated.  If you have the ache in your heart to be a mother, yet you know that desire will never be fulfilled, you deserve to be celebrated.  If you have made mistakes bigger than life, you still deserve to be celebrated.

You see, our society makes it seem like perfection is the only thing that deserves to be celebrated.  But, that's not realistic.  You know what is realistic? 

Getting out of bed every morning and putting one foot in front of the other on your journey of motherhood/womanhood/life. 

Bettering yourself.
Forgiving yourself. 

Loving yourself.
Embracing yourself. 

Now that....that is worthy of being celebrated.  And so are you.

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