Alright, it’s Mother Day. I know I’m supposed to post some “Happy Mother’s Day thing” as my message to my mama community. As a Certified Lactation Counselor, I am a supporter of mothers. I have spent a lot of time with Mothers talking about Mom things for the last 15 years. I should know the right, magical thing to say to today... to all mothers...right? Of course! I am a mentor to mothers. I get it and usually the words flow easily. But today, and every year on Mother’s Day, I struggle for words. I struggle because I know all too well how this day can evoke feelings of loss and sadness. So when I say “Happy Mothers Day!” I know that it’s not a happy day for everyone. I know that while you can be grateful and proud for your own children, you can simultaneously be feeling regret and loss about your own mother. Or maybe you are going through the unthinkable and have lost your own child. Maybe you’ve lost the possibility of having your own children. There are so many reasons why one may feel conflicted with grief today. This is why it doesn't sit well with me to just say “Happy Mother’s Day” and leave it at that.
I had a volatile relationship with my mother. After 13 years old, I was in a constant fight for my autonomy from my mother, and she was a skilled defender of her control. I left her home at 16 and for the most part, we wouldn't speak again till after I had my first son at 27. I read those words I just wrote, and I think about what an oversimplification the words are of what actually happened. I also feel the loss of all of that wasted time. I used to say that my mother taught me what not to do as a parent. And that is true when it comes to unconditional love. My mother's love was viciously conditional for everyone in her life, but especially her children. Perspective has helped me understand why. My compassion for her and her life experience began once I had my own children. With therapy and time, it’s grown to a place of understanding and forgiveness. A place of peace. I can recognize all of the good things she instilled in me. It took a lot to get here, but I know my mom is a huge part of who I am today.
She died 12 years ago. While we were in each other's lives for a couple years before her death, we never really could get over our past together. We quite literally agreed to disagree and move on. But it never felt comfortable or easy with her. I have spent most of my life in awe of my friends who have close, loving relationships with their mothers. It is a mysterious dynamic to me and one that I have always longed for. It’s a feeling I hope to be creating with my own kids.
My kids are 16 and 14 years old now. I have carried fear of this stage my whole mothering life. For me, my teenage years were full of the unknown and the feeling of being alone, abandoned. This experience has shaped me into the person I am, the mom that I am. My kids know that I am their soft place to land. No matter what. Forever. I can see how my experience with my own mother instilled this in me. For all of these reasons, for me, Mother’s day has been a day of feeling conflicted for so long now. And this year is extra.
This year is extra for everyone with the weight of the coronavirus pandemic. So many can’t be with their moms today because of the risk and so many are becoming mothers during this risky time. As a lactation counselor and fellow mom, I worry about new moms. Motherhood can already be so isolating and the virus is amplifying this to the max. Finding ways to connect with other moms is vital always, but especially now. If you’re feeling low today, I understand. I hear you. I see you. Your feelings are real and valid. It’s ok. Together, we are going to be ok. Reach out if you are feeling alone. To a friend, a family member, to me. I am here for you if you need someone to listen. If this is your first Mother’s Day as a Mother, I’m sorry. I’m sorry we’ve got this public health crisis that’s putting a huge damper on your day. But more importantly, I'm sorry it's making your mothering experience a little more anxiety filled, a little more lonely. We are going to get through this. We are Moms. We find the depths of our strength when we become mothers. We find our grit. We also find how big our heart can be and how easily our compassion can flow. Becoming a mother helped to heal me. That is what I celebrate today. The healing that comes with love. It’s Mother’s Day. Happy or not, you are amazing. And if you don’t know that, let me be the one to tell you: YOU ARE AMAZING, MAMA! ~Sierra