I let out a drawn-out “awww” or a light giggle when I see posts in my social media feed of people sharing photos of their mothers, accompanied with sentimental memories or funny stories. As I continue to scroll, a sad envy begins to loom over me. On the day dedicated to mothers — Mother’s Day — I struggle to remember happy memories I share with my own mother. It wouldn’t be fair to say there aren’t any, but the few good memories that come to mind are quickly invaded by an influx of negative ones.

I’ve spent the last three Mother’s Days in a cumulus cloud of despondency that precipitated shame. As a scapegoat child to a narcissistic mother, I decided to go no-contact with my mother in April of 2019. Initially, I had a difficult time making that decision, as I felt maintaining a toxic relationship was better than having no relationship at all. Letting go of arguably the most valued relationship in society makes me feel a tremendous amount of guilt.

Despite my many attempts at reconciliation, and a monumental sacrifice I made that ended up being the catalyst to a severe mental and emotional breakdown, I wanted to hold on. I decided to finally let go after hearing a few words that not only crippled my soul but shattered my spirit.

I first started dreading Mother’s Day when I found it difficult to choose an appropriate Hallmark card that I would add to the gift I planned to give my mother. In it were sentimental words and beautifully written sentences about a mother’s love and care that I could not relate to. Signing a Mother’s Day card with words describing what was a harsh contrast to the reality of our relationship, became a performative act where she would respond with effusive thanks. Us pretending one day out of the year wouldn’t suddenly repair our strained relationship.

This Mother’s Day I chose not to pretend, or allow myself to be engulfed in a dark cloud of sadness. Instead, I will think back on the beautiful memories I have of the women in my life who have acted as mothers to me in my most vulnerable moments — women who have graciously allowed their maternal love to spill over and touch me. When I think about the ways my aunties have spoken life into me through uplifting words, provided me with financial and emotional support in my times of need, and cared for me as if they were the ones who birthed me, I am filled with an overwhelming amount of gratitude. Because of them, I too have stories and memories to share today.

Today, I will also honor my maternal ancestors who guided the mother within me that helped me to raise myself. I will also laugh out loud as I shake my head when I think about how many “somebody’s sons” owe me a Hallmark Mother’s Day card for the role I played in their rearing. I will smile because I know I will have a “Happy Mother’s Day” indeed.


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