Dear R, T, S, & L,
It would be hard not to know it’s Mother’s Day today. The reminders are everywhere. I think briefly of my own mother. She’s been gone 13 years now; long enough that I do not hold this day out as mournful. I know I celebrated her well while she was alive, and I’m satisfied with that.
I am satisfied with my own mothering too. The past few years of estrangement between you and me have made me question whether I could think of myself as a good mother. At last I can. And I do.
We can disagree on the quality of my mothering. In fact, I’m sure we would, probably on more than a few aspects. I’ve come to accept that that’s okay, and not the final word on the job I did. I’ve never pretended to be perfect. I always knew there would be ways I wasn’t everything you wanted me to be and instances I made mistakes. Every mother at times feels frustrated, short-tempered, unequipped, and uninspired. I was no exception. I also recognize that you don’t know everything there is to know on which to base your judgments. You each had your own experiences, and draw your own conclusions from them. This is evident in the fact that two of you talk to me now, and two of you haven’t in years. In that light, it can’t be that I am the only factor determining your level of relationship with me. Each of you play a part as well. You make your choice on how to see me, how to judge me, how to relate to me. I can only influence your perception to a limited degree; the best way is simply to be the best me I can at any given moment. It will be enough for you, or not. I certainly can’t make you see me in any particular way. Or as T put it regularly, I can’t make you love me. But I’ve come to understand that what you think of my mothering isn’t any of my business. What I think of it, is.
So, on this Mother’s Day I celebrate myself. I celebrate the four days (and nights) that I labored to bring my babies into the world. I honor the efforts and the sacrifices I put into raising four children. I own all of the choices I made, even the missteps and mistakes for all that they taught me. I am proud of the learning I took upon myself in order to give my children a foundation of support, love, and respect.
My mothering had nothing to do with you; not personally, anyway. I love you, most definitely. But also, I came to know each one of you, and can honestly say I like and admire each for reasons unique to you. But the way I mothered? That had to do with me. My values. My intentions. My skills and abilities and challenges. My growth. So, yes. I did a good job as a mother, based on what I know about myself and how I’ve responded to life’s push and pull over the years. Whether you think I did a good job as YOUR mother, well…. that’s up to you.
At different times in my life, my mother was amazing, foolish, kind, clueless, distant, and supportive. But she didn’t change. I did, and my assessment of her. Truth is, I’ll never really know what she went thru as my mother. What dreams she gave up, what fears held her back, what guilt she carried. I choose to love her, in all her human mess. I’m learning to give myself the same courtesy. Perhaps someday, you’ll find yourself ready to do the same. Until then….
I love you.