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Mother's Day musings on messy relationships....

TW: Mentions addiction, toxic relationships, loss of a child, strong language

Mother’s Day

For some, it means waking up to the sounds of giggles and laughter as young children do their messy best to make and serve breakfast in bed. For others, it’s waking up with that feeling of deep dread – realization that the mom that was with them through every high and low in life can’t be there anymore. And for still others, it’s being torn between loving a mom that doesn’t know how to love you back, and the effort to love yourself enough to establish healthy boundaries.

Throughout my entire life, I had my feet firmly planted in the last category. If you’ve followed me awhile, you’ll know that I wasn’t raised by my parents. I – along with a younger brother and older sister – were with them off and on until they split up when I was five. A year later – after living with our alcoholic single mom in an extremely toxic environment - other family members took us in.

At 17, after more than a year of trying to live on my own and support myself, I made my way to knock on my mom’s door.

Childhood fantasies have a way of crumbling and falling apart when faced with the truth of cold hard reality. This wasn’t the warm, safe and secure home life I’d been hoping for; had dreamed and fantasized about all my life. I would find no ‘rescue’ here.

At the age of 21, I became a mom for the first time to my only daughter. Heartbreakingly, my beautiful flower didn’t have time to bloom, as she passed from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) just before she turned two months old. On the day that she passed, I called my mom from the hospital at 6am to let her know I had just lost my daughter – her granddaughter - and that I was on my way over. When I arrived, she was sitting at the kitchen table, her shock and disbelief a mirror to my own inner turmoil of emotions.

The table was covered with overflowing ashtrays, cigarette butts, puddles of sticky booze, and half-empty bottles ~ leftovers from pre-Christmas celebrations that night before. As I sat down, my mom reached for the nearest bottle of wine, holding it up to the light to check for floating cigarette butts.

“Please don’t,” I said. “Not today.” “I have to,” she said, and proceeded to drink the day away.

I went and curled up on the livingroom floor in the fetal position, willing the numbness to set in, and layed like that for hours. I was married to my daughter’s father at the time, but he was as unprepared and devastated as I was and couldn’t support me through his own grief.

A few days later....
At about 1am, the phone rang. It was my mom. “I knew she wasn’t staying you know,” said my mother’s drunken voice. “What?” My just-woken brain couldn’t grasp what she was saying. “Candace. I had a feeling this would happen.”
All my years of knowing my mom, I certainly knew and recognized her claim of ‘I had a feeling’. Problem was, she only ever mentioned it AFTER some major event had occurred.

Like the death of my daughter.

“I’m really sorry, but I knew it. I always had a feeling she would die young,” she continued through tears, her tongue thick and slow on her words. “All right, I’m fucking done!” I screamed into the phone. “Don’t you EVER fucking call here after you’ve had more than two beers, and never, FUCKING EVER do I want you to mention my daughter’s name again. EVER!”

I slammed the phone down, cutting off her reply...

Somehow through the coming days and weeks and years, my mom and I managed to forge out a tentative, hesitant relationship. I didn’t trust her with all of my hopes and dreams, and I didn’t lean on her when I needed extra love and support, but there was laughter. There was love.

But up until she was passing away of cancer almost 30 years later, we never spoke of my daughter. During her last few months, we did speak of her occasionally. Mostly me reassuring my mom that Candace would be there to greet her when her time came. By then, the cancer had spread to mom’s brain and I was helping with her palliative care.

I’d been with her for about three months when one magical day, I was gifted a beautiful moment of insight that changed my life, and my relationship with my mother.

Overcome with emotion of sudden wisdom learned the hard way, I went and laid on the bed beside the thin, frail body that was my mom. Through my tears, I apologized for all those years I’d so successfully shut her out of my life. “I get that I needed to put up healthy boundaries, mom, but I see now how hard you’ve tried to reach across the gap between us and make it right. And I haven’t let you. And for that, I am so, so sorry.”

My mom reached out gently and took my hand in hers. With a gentle smile and a tear, she simply stated “You missed out on a lot of ‘I love yous’….”

* * * * * * *

Since then, I’ve been slowly working at taking those high walls of protection down and using them as stepping stones to help me navigate a new perspective on life. Part of my Awakening included coming to terms with my mom’s ability to know things - even if she was too afraid to own that foreknowledge, but couldn’t help but confirm her feelings by claiming it afterward. It helped me to finally own my own gifts and abilities

That was a HUGE shift in my forgiveness and understanding of my mom, including acceptance that she had, indeed, known that my daughter’s time was short. How incredibly difficult that must have been for her…

* * * * * * *

For those of you waking up to the sounds of laughter and giggles, I smile at the beauty of your moment.

For those waking up in dread, please know that I tell everyone with sincerity – I get along better with my mom now that she’s in Spirit than I ever did while she was alive. And for those still working through relationships that are difficult and challenging on any level – I see you.

Know your boundaries are not only okay, they are absolutely necessary. It’s an important part of your journey and of loving yourself. And not every boundary is too high, either. Your relationship, your way.

You decide.

Sending you blessings on this Mother’s Day. Seeing you, hearing you, holding you. Blessed be,

~ Lee

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