It’s strange writing a piece about honoring your mother while being estranged from my own. I contemplated not writing anything at all, but felt compelled to share my story. Not all mothers do wonders for their children just as not all children appreciate what their mothers have done for them. My relationship with my mom has had more downs than ups, and there isn’t much that I would say with certainty that I loved about our relationship. What is important is that I learned a lot from her although it’s not the typical mother/daughter life lessons. Of all the things I’ve learned from her, there is one lesson that is most potent in my mind; survival. I’ve learned that I alone can survive anything life can throw at me because, unbeknownst to her, she was the first thing I had to survive.
I spent a lot of my life chasing that ABC Family/Disney Channel family that was ever-present in my childhood. You may be disappointed to know that families don't actually look like they do on TV. At least no family that I've met. Mine is no different. Sure, we would have family dinners sometimes and outings on the weekends. My mom went to every dance recital and school play. There were also nights I would see my parents dunkenly fight and times my mother would manipulate situations to get what she wanted. It wasn't until my parents inevitable divorce about two years ago that I could clearly see the manipulative qualities she had. It was also the first time I saw her put anyone else above her children (besides herself). Our relationship was the best it had been since I was a child before the divorce and it soon came crashing down around me.
It was surprising to say the least, and hurtful, that she would above all else choose her new husband over my siblings and me. Now watching her relationship with my younger brother unravel it's surprising how simple it was for her to put on this facade for so long with my sister and I. Things have not been easy, but things could've been a lot worse. I learned years and years ago that just because we are family doesn't mean I have to light myself on fire to keep you warm. We're very different that way, my mother and I. She will endure anything her mother throws at her or me or anyone else simply because that's her mother. I am more of the belief that trauma is not worth the familial relationship. A lot of our problems have been made out to be my fault, and that's okay. If that's how she needs to spin things to feel better, fine. I'm sure there is some truth to her stories. It doesn't change the fact that there is also truth in mine.
She is all the lessons wrapped in a bow that some take a lifetime to learn. Blood does not equal family, your happiness comes before anyone else’s, people will be mad at you for doing what’s best for yourself and that’s okay, at the end of the day all you have is yourself, you never truly know who people are, and on and on. All things that I'm happy to have learned, but truly wish I could've learned them in a different way and perhaps at an older age. I'm still uncertain of where our relationship will go in the future or if there will be one at all. I am certain that, regardless, I will be just fine. I will have good days and bad days. I will have days where I wonder if she's thinking of me and I'm sure she will do the same. For now, I'll love her from a distance because she is my mother, but I will not burn myself to the ground because she is my mother.