I woke up Sunday morning to a card, a bouquet of flowers, and gifts wrapped with a bow.
They are gifts I gave to myself. They are the gifts I would have given on Mother’s Day had I had a real mother. But I never had that, so I had to improvise. In many ways, I had to be (and continue to be) my own mother. And I’m accepting that now. As much as I long for a real mother, the opportunity has passed. It’s my job now.
I went to work that morning with Courage by my side. He comes with me whenever I’m going through difficult times or doing something I’ve never done before. I didn’t know how my day would go, so I brought him just in case. He was a good coworker-for-a-day. I was able to keep myself together. I text an old friend Happy Mother’s Day without getting upset. My therapist sent me a text and it reminded me of my importance, to myself and to the world. I was okay.
After work, I changed out of my uniform, into a nice shirt, and took myself to an early dinner. It didn’t matter that I was alone. I knew I deserved something special. I knew I deserved to eat. I was going to treat myself, and I did. Surrounded by families celebrating the holiday, I sat at a table by myself, with Courage sitting in the chair next to me. I didn’t have to force myself to eat. In that moment, all of the conflict I usually experience around food was gone.
I sat and read the card I wrote to myself the night before.
You are your own mother. I know it’s hard because the woman who gave birth to you did not know how to be a mother, or maybe she just didn’t want to. The reasons don’t matter. You have had to parent yourself. You protected yourself when no one else would. You are learning to take care of yourself in the ways your mother should have (but didn’t) take care you.
I know it hurts. It hurts in your heart. It hurts in your mind. It hurts in your soul. A pain you can’t explain, because your mother isn’t dead. But she might as well have been dead, because she was never really there for you, ever.No one ever taught you how to love because your mother never loved you. No one taught you how to take care of yourself because your mother didn’t any worth in you.
But here you are. Surviving. Trying to love yourself. Recognizing your worth. Seeing all of the things your mother refused to see in you. You’ve done a great job keeping yourself alive. You got out. You mustered up all of the strength and courage you could, even when no one agreed with you or understood, and you left your mother for good.
And now you need to keep mothering yourself. It’s time to take care of you. You deserve to be cared for. Whatever that woman told you was a lie. All of those times she hurt you, that had nothing to do with you. You were just a child. It’s not your fault that she could not be a mother.
Now it’s your chance to be a mother to yourself. You can do it. You deserve it.
This Mother’s Day was the first time I didn’t break down. I didn’t dread the day, because I made it about me, not the woman who gave birth to me.
Sometimes we have to break traditions. Sometimes we have to bend society’s rules a little bit. I am my own mother now. That other woman just gave birth to me.