The idea for this post came to me just like many other posts, at night when I’m trying to get much needed sleep. We opted to celebrate the Swedish mother’s day instead of the American mother’s day two weeks ago, mostly because it’s the one we’ll be celebrating moving forward since we live in Sweden. I’ve been reflecting on the idea of motherhood, what it means and how people are forever changed by this person. And it got me thinking a lot about my own mother. It’s hard for me to write this because it’s not the easiest or happiest topic, but it’s my truth and I must live it.
My mother along with eldest sister (yes I have another sister) and I have been estranged for a decade. We had an incident that lead to us not speaking. They were not invited to my wedding. I haven’t had contact with them since my mid-twenties until last year when I gave birth to Theodore. They both sent him gifts which was unexpected, but appreciated. It wasn’t so much of an olive branch because we are still not speaking, but it was nice to know they cared about my child even if they didn’t care so much for me.
A little bit of background might be necessary – my parents got divorced when I was 8 years old. My mother along with my eldest brother and sister moved out. I was left to stay with my father with my other older sister and brother. I know it’s confusing and weird, but that’s what happened. I’d like to think that the divorce was what made our mother-daughter relationship strained, but it wasn’t. Some women are not maternal even if they are mothers. I spent my weekend visits with my mother being dragged to every shopping mall to watch her play dress up. Vanity could be her middle name. She never bought any of those things for me, not so much as candy even, I was just there like a burden she had to take care of. She never asked about my schooling, how I was dealing with the divorce or anything meaningful. She really didn’t seem to care to get to know me what so ever. I didn’t realize until much later that this wasn’t how a normal mother-daughter relationship should look like. But this was all I knew.
As for my father, he wasn’t taking on the role of mommy or daddy…he was living the life of a newly found bachelor. He was going through a major mid-life crisis (the Porsche included) and often left me in the care of my 15 year old sister. He would be gone for days and would come home to drop off money so that we could eat and then off he went. I would be passed off to any relative that would have me. Luckily, my uncles and their family were so sweet to take me in on the weekends while the rest of my family continued with their lives unburden by the small child in their care. And that’s what I felt like most of my childhood… a burden. I often wished I had never been born because it made life so difficult around me. I didn’t want my sister to miss out on her high school activities because she had to bring her kid sister everywhere. I didn’t what my uncles to have to take care of another child or for my father to feel the need to give me money out of guilt for being an absentee father. I just wanted to disappear and make everyone’s lives easier.
I’m not writing this for you to feel sorry for me, it’s my past and it shaped who I am today. I’ve made peace with it. I had to give you the background so you’d understand where I came from.
My first mother figure was my older sister and to this day, she’s still my mother figure and the one I go to for advice. I used to send her mother’s day cards and flowers. We may not always see eye to eye, but I know that she truly loves me and wants the best for me and vice versa. I’m thankful for her and so happy that she gets to be a part of Theodore’s life. My next mother figure was my college ex-boyfriend’s mom, to this day we still keep in touch and have our own friendship. She was the first person to give me a full body hug. She was warm, kind and an awesome cook. It was the first time I got to see what a nurturing mother looked like and how different she was from my mother. I gravitated to her like a magnet. My mother used to keep me at arms length when we hugged so as to not mess up her clothes or make up. From then, it was my first boss out of college. She was a #bosslady, a mother, a wife and so much more. I admired her so much and she became my mentor. She taught me how to juggle being all those things, she made it look easy and yet she is still the one of the kindest people I know. She cared for me and I am forever grateful for her many lessons. My best friend’s mum became my mum. She was the epitome of what an amazing mother should be. We still keep in touch and I hope they can come visit us in Sweden to meet Theodore. I’ve learned so much through my mommy friends, they’ve been so supportive and shared their best practices. So you see, although I don’t have a relationship with my biological mother, I am so blessed to have so many wonderful mother figures in my life. Each of them have taught me how to be a good person, wife and mother.
When I got pregnant with Theodore, I had a bit of a panic attack. What if I became my mother? What if I couldn’t connect with my child and what if I wasn’t maternal? All those thoughts crossed my mind and I was so afraid I inherited her gene. But I didn’t. The second he came into the world, I knew I would do anything in my power to never let him experience an ounce of sadness or ever make him feel as though he were a burden. He made me his mother and I became his protector, his teacher in life and I loved him unconditionally instantly. There is nothing he could do to make me love him less. This is a poor example, but I used to wonder how mother’s of criminals could visit or defend their sons… now I get it. It’s just love.
I’ve been very possessive over Theodore to the point where I couldn’t bare to have anyone else hold him. I think it is a result of my childhood. I had been searching for love my whole life, sometimes in the wrong places, but now that I found the love of my life that gave me the greatest love of my life… I was so afraid that it could all be taken away from me. That this time I have with him is finite and that sharing him would make him love me less. I know it’s crazy, but that was what I thought. I’m starting to ease up as he’s getting older and I’m getting more comfortable in my mommy role. I know I’m not going to be perfect, but I will never fail him because he could never fail me.
So on my first mother’s day I reflected on all the amazing mother figures that have come and blessed my life. If I could be half of what these women are I know I’ll be a good mother. Nothing is more powerful or beautiful as a mother’s love and I’m so happy to be in the club.