Wednesday, January 23, 2013

MOTHERLESS DAUGHTERS

Losing your mother leaves an irreparable wound.

I can remember overhearing the therapist tell my dad in the hallway, “losing a mother between the age of 7 and 11 is the hardest time, research shows. That particular age range predicts the worst outcome.”

If you’ve seen the movie, you might remember this saying from Fight Club, “The first rule of fight club is that you never talk about fight club.” I’ve always thought that the same rules apply when you’re the child of a deceased mom: The first rule of dead moms’ club is that you do not talk about being the child of a dead mom.

In my adult years, I’ve learned to talk more about my mother. Even though she is absent, talking about her makes her present. I share the characteristics and stories I know of her, with my own children, and it gives them a sense of knowing her. And it’s become rather therapeutic for me.

I’m so incredibly drawn to people that knew her. They talk to me about who my mother was as a woman and wife and mother and always follow with, “you are the spitting image of your mother,” which makes me want to spread my wings and soar. Why? Because that woman was adored and admired – like a moth to a flame, people wanted to be around her. So, if I emanate any ounce of her, I’m honored.

Growing up, you don’t know why you have a void in your heart, but it exists. There is a piece of you that always feels unusual. It’s like you’re always in mourning. Always longing.

When you get your period, kiss a boy for the first time, learn how to be a woman, learn how to put on lipstick, graduate high school, get married, have babies, breastfeed…the most thrilling and exciting of times, and you’re left wondering why you feel like something is missing. All the while, deep inside, you expected your mother to be by your side and you didn’t even know you had the expectation. Does that makes any sense?

That’s not to say I didn’t have the utmost magnificent surrogate mothers…my grandmother, sister, aunts, friends’ mothers, boyfriends’ mothers even – they all took me under their wing and poured their love over me. But, for lack of better words,   it’s   just   not   quite   the   same.

The biggest obstacle, which I continually strive to overcome each day, is breaking down the barrier I built up around me all those years. Preventing people from getting too close was something I did best. I kept relationships rather superficial, so as to not experience another profound loss as I did with first my mother and then my grandmother. Nevermore would I have the rug pulled out from under me, or so I thought. The idea of loss – even in friendship – was just one more person gone.

When you’re the child of a deceased mother (especially at a young age), you’re told continuously how strong you are. To the outside world, you have conquered the most intense thing there is to overcome. But on the inside, you lack all the things really needed for survival: self-esteem, confidence and a place to really belong.

So instead of breaking, I became the therapist to everyone who needed it. From my teenage years to present, I get calls or emails at random, from friends who need help. Knowing that someone could so effortlessly rely on me gave me a purpose, something to feel good about. I grew up so fast and am an old soul but deep down I'm still fourteen, still looking for someone to take care of me. I think that’s another thing none of us lost kids ever want to admit. That we need someone else’s help because if we do, if we lean on someone too much, they’ll leave us. We can admit we’re in a bad mood, but we never want to say: I just miss my mom.

Questions that arise in me at times is how much of my life can I blame on my mother dying and how much do I take responsibility for? Truth be told, I’ve always held myself accountable. It wasn’t until recent years that I have really identified that that incident truly affected me and my choices and my feelings and my responses. (And I hate that I just used ‘incident’ like it’s something that can be healed. Sure, time allows pain to fade, but it never diminishes.) I was so incredibly adamant about proving that therapist wrong – I wasn’t going to let “that little girl who lost her mother” define me. I was social and fearless and could talk to anyone I wanted, and be anything I wanted.

Several years ago, I was advised to read a book called Motherless Daughters. I read a few pages and stopped. I got busy maybe. Or perhaps I convinced myself that I didn’t need it -- I was perfectly okay -- I’ve had a rather successful and happy and fulfilling life. But I eventually finished the book, and I’m so glad I did. For the first time, I felt as though I was in a room with every child who has lost a mother (no matter what the age) and had people to understand like no one else ever could.

I’m not sure this blog post really has a point, except that it would be nice to broadcast out a message, hire a skywriter, wave a flag on a plane passing over a beach that simply states: Dead Moms’ Club: We all feel like dirt sometimes, and you’re not alone. I learned that this week when talking with one of my besties -- no matter how old you were then, no matter how old you are now, the bad days come, the good days remain and who we are because of this isn’t something to shy away from, but something to embrace, to talk about, to grow from it. Losing my mother might always be a stigma attached to my name and my personality...

...and I’ll always miss her on a random Tuesday or Wednesday or July.




Song: If I Rise   Artist: Dido & A.R. Rahman

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17 comments:

  1. Amanda Tyler CarlJanuary 23, 2013

    Love! ♥ I know your mom is so proud of you!!

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  2. Lillian SmithJanuary 23, 2013

    Hi Mandi So proud of you to do something like this that is so important to others. I know first hand how much your mother loved you. I know something no matter what Daddy can not make up for no matter how they try. It makes you special and the lovely person you have become. Love aunt LIL

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  3. Mandi,

    As soon as I read your words "I’m not sure this blog post really has a point...", I had to tell you that it does on many levels. It has a lot of points...for you, for me, and I'm sure, for others who read it that have experienced a profound loss in life. You have just put in to words some of the things I have struggled with for years...for different reasons...but still the same feelings that came as a result. Thank you for this blog!

    Love,
    Gretchen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm touched that you felt a connection to what I wrote. I'm disastrous at times, deciphering how much to say in a post like this. It's like giving up a piece of myself -- something I've shied away from doing pretty much my entire life. Then I spill it and everyone thinks I am admirably inspiring and that I seemingly have it all together -- and, well, that's simply not true. I still have those little insecurities that hurt me, derail me and sometimes makes me feel inferior. We all do, I think, on different levels.

      X,
      Mandi

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  4. Angela PierceJanuary 23, 2013

    Mandi, Thank you for sharing. BIG TEARS as I sit in my office and read your words.

    I didn't lose my Mom at an early age rather when Kennedi was only 7 months old. She was ill my entire pregnancy and in the hospital on life support for three months before she died. I have felt that void for ten years now with raising Kennedi, struggling through my divorce, and NOW, planning another wedding which will lead to another little one. I had no idea how much I missed her and what affect it had on me until Kennedi started getting older. Of course now, with no mother to stand beside me in planning this wedding, WOW, I think of her every day. Hugs to you and other motherless daughters.

    Love, Angela

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    Replies
    1. My heart hurt as I read your words. How long have we been friends? And I've never really known the story of losing your mom. I don't think it matters how old you are -- the absence of a mother is a hole in our hearts at every age.

      Truth is all we need to hear sometimes. In this, we've learned another reason why you and I are connected and compatible.

      The upside is that God knew what I needed when he gave me Keegan, Bailey, Reef and Pete. They fill me up -- my cup runneth over! And God is doing the same for you, with Kennedy and Kenny and that baby that will one day grow inside you.

      "The journey is the reward."

      XO,
      Mandi

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  5. I don't know you. I just came across your blog. I am a motherless daughter too. I miss her every day. She is missing so much of my life and I am missing her comfort and support. The dead mother club is the worst club to be forced to join.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for commenting! Thank you for sharing your hurting heart here on my blog. I want this blog to be a place of inspiration, uplift, joy...and TRUTH. Because life is hard. Most of us have been through serious situations in life, and I want people to relate here. Connect here. And understand.

      Anyone can post funny stories and pretty pictures, but who does that help?

      Hugs to you,
      M.

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  6. We motherless daughters are not alone and we all carry pieces of our mothers who are no longer with us. Beautiful and meaningful post that I can relate to so much xo

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  7. Wow you took the words out of my mouth and thoughts out of my head. Thank you for this. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to write something this thoughtful yet. I am 27 and my mom died when I was 4, it's only been within the past few years that I've even been able to acknowledge she is actually gone/ start talking about her.

    Blessings to you.

    Julie

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  8. Mandi...Thank you so much for writing this, my mother died when I was 11 and I am now 31. I am able to relate to everything you wrote. I feel comforted by that fact that there is another person on this planet who knows what is is like. I too had to be strong and naturally took care of other people. It wasn't something I was asked to do, it just happened. It wasn't until recently that I have started to talk about my mother, it has been too painful to think about, so I have avoided it all these years. But the with time, the wall that I too have built is coming down. Your words are very powerful and I know that I was meant to read what you wrote...it was not pointless. Thank you for your openness, honesty and vulnerability.

    Thank you,
    Amanda (I am known to Mandy by family)

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  9. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your Mother. How nice that you have such fond memories of her. I wonder if it's just "us" that think that we're not supposed to talk about dead people. Although I do know that others get uncomfortable. I hope they can imagine how we feel...

    Being the member of any "Dead..." Club sucks. I'm a member of the "Dead Babies Club". I lost my son Alexander at nine days old. I always tell people two months because I don't want them to think that he didn't exist. Or, didn't exist long enough to count.

    New follower of yours via Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/journeyofthezoo), Google+ (https://plus.google.com/117146120519608211142/posts) and BlogLovin (http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4064788/journeys-of-the-zoo).

    I'd love it if you linked up to my Weekly BlogLovin Hop, http://www.journeysofthezoo.com/2013/04/bloglovin-linky-thursday-april11.html.

    Looking forward to getting to know each other better.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo
    Finding Humour in Everyday Life

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  10. AnonymousMay 07, 2013

    My mother died of cancer when I was 12. I am 38 years old now and thought I was over the grieving process. But I am 31 weeks pregnant and recently all the emotions are back. I miss my mom and want/need her here with me through my pregnancy. What helped you the most through your "tough" times? I was thinking of writing her a letter but not sure if that would help or make things worse. Oh how I miss her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could take your hand and walk through this pregnancy with you, being someone that knows first hand what it's like to go through this experience without the ability to share it with your mother. There's no doubt, my friend, that she's looking down on you and proud of what she sees. xoxo

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  11. I lost my mother a year ago to breast cancer and it's been the hardest year of my life. She was such a strong woman and I and thankful I had her for as long as I did and that she had the opportunity to meet all my three babies. Even though she's gone, I always feel she is with me guiding me in the right direction...or to do things like cut the tag off a pillow, bc it always bothered her- haha. Thank you for sharing your post, it's a comfort to know others who are in the same boat as me :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing, Michelle. I'm relieved to hear that your mother got to enjoy your 3 little blessings -- I'm sure there was fulfillment in that, for her.

      It's heartfelt to see bits and pieces of her in all the little random things you do, I'm sure. After all, you are her legacy.

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I am incredibly grateful for your comment! I will respond as soon as possible. XOXO, Mandi

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