Hope Edelman who wrote the book “Motherless Daughters”, also has a website for people who find themselves in the situation of trying to mother without a mother.
When I have found myself in the depths of it, wondering what type of mother opts out of parenting her children because she just finds it all “too much,” I tried to find a group of women like myself; women who don’t have mothers because their mothers made a choice to not be a part of their lives, their grandchildren’s lives or their sibling’s lives. I couldn’t find a group.
And then I came upon Hope’s website which seemed sort of for me. Maybe a place for me to fit it. Maybe I’d find some kindred spirits to say “I get it. I get the guilt that maybe, just maybe there’s something more we could do to make them love us, to make them want us. To stop our tears that have been shed since we were babies pining for a mama. Not just a mother who stuck food on the table but a mama who was capable of some sort of feelings. Maybe we could have been more of what they wanted or less of what they didn’t. Maybe if we could have and had been, we would have what we think everyone else has.”
But Hope’s website is for women whose mothers died. Especially devastatingly, when their daughters were young. And those women felt a void their whole lives. This website was not for me. Believe me, I tried to join up. But I was not like these women. These women had concrete evidence that they didn’t have a mother. Their mother’s wanted them just couldn’t be with them.
My situation has never been as clear cut. My mother’s been in and out of my life. At times doing her best acting job at what she thought a mother’s behavior should look like. Acting well enough to say to the world “You see? She’s the one who’s crazy! Look how much I do for her!”
But here’s the truth. My mother chose a man over her children more than 35 years ago. She chose a paranoid, anti-social man who refuses to play by society’s rules. She chose a narcissistic extremely abusive man over her very own flesh and blood. And she continues to knowingly make this choice everyday.
I’ve tried many many many times to mend things even though she refuses to take any responsibility. But that’s what I’ve learned to do my whole life to keep the peace. Take responsibility. I’m depressed? My fault! Eating disorder? I must be a disgusting person who needs to get herself together. My mother’s exact words back when I was 21 and confessed to being a bulimic who was getting help “don’t blame me! I had nothing to do with your probems.” My mother has decided that she’s “incapable of meeing my and my brothers needs” yet, I’ve tried to spend time with her on her terms (she refuses therapy, wants me to bring the child to her and then ignores her, there is no asking for favors, and most of all not wanting too much) it has worked for a time but really, it’s a package deal. It comes with the creepy step-father.
And when it came down to it, when I finally said, now that I’m a mother, this has to stop. I will not. Won’t. WILL NOT DO YOU HEAR ME??? Will not leave my daughter alone with you and your husband. My mother decided that she’d rather not have me in her life.
My childhood was something that was not in my control but my daughter’s life is very much in my control.
And my mother and her manipulative, gaslighting ways, won’t work on me or my brother or ANY OF US ANYMORE.
My mother loves to explain to me, my husband (who finds it amusing that she’d really try this on him of all people) and whomever will listen that I was a difficult baby. “You should have seen her. Really. Never seen a needier baby. Just months old and never could be pleased. Isn’t that just the funniest thing? I certainly couldn’t do it. No one could. She was just too much.” No mom. I wasn’t too much. You weren’t enough.
But I look at my precious child and think, “could she ever be too much? Of course not. I want her to be even more. I can’t love her enough. I try but more spills over. That’s how I’m too much now. I care too much for my child. I love my husband too much. And no amount of therapy will get rid of that. Thank God.
Motherless children don’t always have to have had a mom who died when they were young. Sometimes being motherless just means that your mom is so uninterested in being a mom/your mom that they will grab any branch to swing away from their repsonsiblity to their children and grandchildren in favor of career, husband, denial, narcissism, their own bad parenting the list goes on. But the grief never goes away. I will never stop missing her or the fantasy of what unconditional motherly love would have felt like.
I want to stop missing her.
I don’t want to be writing this post. Every fiber of my being says this is wrong. But here it is. Maybe I’ll take it down tomorrow.