When I was finishing up my book, my editor, as well as a few other friends, told me something I hadn’t really thought about before. To paraphrase what they said: “You had a great relationship with your mom. I envy you, because I didn’t.”
Some of my friends told me their mothers acted as if they were a burden, something they were forced to care for for 18 years until they could have their life back.
Some friends told me stories of how their mother would get upset with them for something and refuse to speak to them, or acknowledge them at all, for several weeks, or months, just to prove a point.
Some mothers continually criticized their children, never offering encouragement, always making them feel they could never be good enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. And not hesitating to tell others that as well, and in front of their children.
Some told me how their mothers never attended any sports events or other special events in their childhood. They were “too busy”.
Some friends told me their mothers hardly ever hugged or kissed them, and could hardly remember them ever saying “I love you.”
Some were reminded constantly, “I don’t know why I even had you! You’re nothing but a problem! I should’ve just given you away!”
Some friends told me about mothers who, as soon as they were old enough to be left by themselves, would go out at night and not return until several hours later. Or, as soon as they were old enough to do work around the house, they were expected to do it all for their mother, including cooking dinner, because she didn’t want to.
Some friends told me stories of finally being raised by their grandparents instead of their mothers; and hardly ever seeing their mothers. That happens a lot today, unfortunately, but in all honesty, it’s better than being raised by someone who doesn’t want to enjoy the role of being a mother. Someone who views having children a burden rather than a gift to be treasured and cherished.
These now adult children of mothers who did not truly love them and care for them now face their own difficulties. Many of them still harbor resentment and distrust of the women who gave them life. Who are still disappointed every time they think she’s finally changed and ready to be a part of their life. And find out sadly she’s still not.
Children learn from their parents. Many of these now adult children have told me they know how to raise their own children because of the way they were raised. Many who aren’t parents yet say they look forward to having their own children, because they are going to show them the love they never knew as a child.
My heart grieves for them. For the little children they used to be; for the sad days and unhappy nights they endured because of feeling unloved and unwanted. My heart grieves for the adults they are now, with no happy childhood memories of a loving mother, and it grieves when they are still disappointed as they try to make a relationship work that never will.
And my heart grieves for the mothers who missed out on so much, for whatever reasons, because they will never have the opportunity again to make it right for the children they gave life to, but neglected to make a priority in their life.
I am a huge proponent of adoption. How much happier would these children have been if they’d had that opportunity!?
To all the mothers out there who may be feeling they don’t want to be a mom to young children any more, I have some advice. Before it’s too late, change your attitude, and realize these little ones need you. They need love. Compassion. And someone to care for them more than anything else in the world. Isn’t that what you wanted, and needed, as a child? If you had that, why are you denying your children that same love? If you didn’t, why are you making them endure the same heartbreak and unhappiness you suffered?
Mothers, before it’s too late…think about it. One day those children won’t need you any more. And they may not want you around. You may never see your grandchildren. You may have no one left to care for you in your elderly years. All because you wanted to live your life the way you wanted to live it. Without responsibilities.
I’m not talking about mothers who give their babies up for adoption when they’re born. They loved them enough to make a huge sacrifice in order to give their child the life they knew they weren’t able to, and to bless a family that otherwise wouldn’t have children. Many of those mothers still think about that child on a daily basis, wondering what they look like, what they’re doing, and if they’ll ever have a chance to meet them and explain the decision they made.
I’m not talking about mothers who lose custody of their children in a divorce because of fathers who have more money than they do, and/or fight to take the children because it will hurt their ex-wife. Or the mothers who sadly give up custody in a divorce because they cannot afford to take care of their children, and have no choice but to let their father do it, only getting to see their babies on weekends and holidays, but making sure those visits are special, and the children are shown how much their mommy loves them every opportunity she gets.
Let me end by paraphrasing the saying I used in my previous post about absentee fathers.
“[Almost] any woman can bear a child and be a mother…but it takes a special person to be a Mommy.”
Are you a mother or a mommy?
Note: If you missed Monday’s blog about absentee fathers, read it here.