Adoption, Mothering, The Inner Landscape

For My Mothers

To my mothers~

Today is your birthday.

One of you, if still living, would be 82. I wish I could imagine you at that age, but you have been gone for 14 years, and you are imprinted on me at that younger phase of life, the mid-60’s, a time when I wish you could have been enjoying your grandchildren rather than succumbing to cancer.

One of you, wherever and however you are, turns 66 today. I don’t know your health, or whether you have retired from your work, but I know there’s an equal chance of hearing something this Christmas or never hearing anything again. It’s been like that between us.

I used to wonder if maybe a Scorpio was just the worst sort of maternal match for this Taurus. I looked for excuses everywhere I could find them to explain my apparent inability to please or communicate with either of you. I’m doing work I love, work of which both of you, for your different reasons, disapproved.

For 46 years, I have been carrying the grief of one of you and the shame of the other at the core of my being, in my bones and muscles, in the cells of my body. I don’t believe that either of you meant to lay those burdens on me, but I carried them, and until recently, no one invited me to remove them and leave them behind.

It seems I have a choice. Those deeply sad feelings have been a powerful connection to both of you, one that stretches across time and in one case, beyond life. Those feelings have at times fermented into hopelessness or resentment or self-recrimination. I have felt it coming for almost two years, the need to cut those particular cords, to stop feeding on the shame and letting the grief breathe for me.

Such a change feels drastic and unsettling, but ultimately it feels necessary.

I have compassion for you both, so unreachable and remote in your different ways. I’ve been trying to form relationships with distant, inaccessible people all my life, your grief and your shame, carried so unconsciously, creating barriers to those connections I so dearly wanted. I could not see the difficulties emanated from me.

So today, on your birthdays, I choose to put down these burdens, gently and with respect. I am a mother myself, a mother of a daughter, and I want to model consciousness and clarity for her. I want to mother myself, giving myself the same permission I would give my daughter: to be herself, to walk her path, to recognize any heaviness she might carry that really belongs to someone else. Our own burdens, our own losses, are enough.

With love,

Your daughter

31 thoughts on “For My Mothers”

  1. Amazing how the work we do to mother our daughters becomes the very work we need to do for ourselves. which in turn enables us to mother our daughters even better…

  2. i write letters to my mom on the anniversary of her death. somehow her birthday seems to miss me. perhaps because it’s august.
    our stories are so different — and yet we both grieve our mothers. your last few words sounds like something i could have written. it’s not fair that we have to mother ourselves. and yet, well, there is grace in finding each other and sharing our stories.
    loving you.

  3. ((((Song))) I heard a phrase on the radio during an interview with an author who had a difficult father. He had been locked into that cycle of feelings (as had I with my own father) for years, Finally he could see peace in his life when he realized that his father was a man who had “lost his way”.
    There was something healing in that when I heard it — a parent who “lost their way” is forgivable, even if they do not repent — it helps me understand and to see them more in God’s light than my own. May it help you as well.
    Love and understanding,

  4. I love you and am proud to be able to call you friend…and hopeful for you as you walk on with only those burdens that are yours, into sunshine.

  5. Happy New Birth Day!
    Just finished the book you recently had on your sidebar about ‘what happened to the girls who gave up babies before Roe v Wade’ – it was amazing.

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