This day is especially challenging because in all honesty, I have a hard time celebrating someone who abandoned me.
I’ve been homeless for two years and during this time, I have had to answer the question “Where’s your mother?” and even worse, “Why can’t she help you?”, more times than I can count. How do you explain to someone that your mother didn't care if you slept on a park bench or the sofa of a stranger? Over these last years, our only interaction has been for her to either tell me to sell off the rest of my belongings or to ask someone else for help. Once, she gave me $20 that she asked me to pay back the following week.
Growing up, our interactions were cold, always leaving me longing for a little warmth, a small smile even. I know the way my mother “raised” me was just a product of the way her mother raised her and the trauma she experienced being an immigrant child. On top of that, no one realized she was at least 70% deaf until she was five years old. When I think about those combined challenges, I can find myself starting to feel sorry for her. Almost.
The fact of the matter is, at a certain point, we all have to take responsibility for our own traumas and how it ripples through our lives. Yes, I can feel sorry for my mother, but I can also hold a deep resentment for her, the same woman who avoided the responsibilities of motherhood with bottle after bottle of liquor.
She chose the easy way out instead of growing and doing the work to heal.
There were points in my young life where I had to take care of my mother the way she should have cared for me. In a drunken stupor, she would reach for me to help her to the toilet while I tried to shield my little brothers and sisters from seeing her in such a state. By the age of two, I was told to clean up the house as my father slept and my mother worked. I'd gather things other children might have harmfully ingested and instead of putting them in my mouth, I put them in my father’s hand while he slept.
Growing up, I came to realize what I was missing through the mothers of friends or teachers at school. I didn’t know there were moms who weren’t always angry and yelling. That you could teach and nurture a child without hurting them, shunning them and punishing them. So when I see all the campaigns this time of year with smiling mothers and daughters, I can't help but try my best to hold back my tears at what could have been. What might have been if I didn't have to be my own mother.
In an effort to grow and heal, I have decided to change my perspective about this day and its challenges for me. I've decided to take time to celebrate myself and the strength I had to be my own mother.
I have met many other people in my journey who resonate with the difficulty of this significant day and they deserve to be celebrated too. This day can be a challenge for many and recognizing these differences might make it easier for unconventional mothers and women in general who face challenges with motherhood. Happy Mother’s Day to all the different kinds of moms out there and keep shining.