By Kristen Ashley Moore
Happy Mothers’ Day to everyone reading this! Because everyone has experience with a mother of some sort…. At the very least you came out of one!
So Happy Mother’s Day to everyone.
Our relationship to this role of motherhood can vary wildly from person to person and even from situation to situation. I want to take a moment to honor mothers who have experienced the death of a child, miscarried, had an abortion, gave birth, adopted, are a step-parent, have foster children, are estranged from your child(ren), have a strained relationship with your child(ren), you aren’t raising your child(ren) because they were taken from you or because of choice, would have chosen not to be a mother if you had it to do over again, are single, are partnered, or have a non-traditional family in any way. I also want to honor people who want to be a mother and circumstances haven’t allowed it, have chosen not to be a mother, your mother is no longer alive or in the process of making her transition, are estranged from your mother, have a strained relationship with your mother, your mother came out as transgender or non-binary, you have multiple mothers from mixed families, your mother abused you, or your mother allowed you to be abused by someone else.
This day can be hard for so many people for so many reasons, and we tend to ignore those people who don’t look forward to this day for whatever reason.
I want you to know that I see you and I honor you.
I see the tears.
I see the longing for healing.
I see the guilt and frustration and anger and sadness and grief.
I see all of those emotions and feelings even if they are buried below brunches and flowers and laughter.
And I also want to let you off the hook. If you are having any emotion that isn’t portrayed on a Mother’s Day commercial or a Hallmark Mother’s Day card, it’s okay. In fact, I would say that it is normal.
I also want to give you Hope.
My relationship to this day, my mother, and my son, has been a rollercoaster over the years.
For many years, my relationship with my mother was extremely strained to the point that we were estranged for over 18 months. I am not going into the story, because it is just that, a story. If you ask me what happened and you ask my mother what happened, we would tell you very different stories, so the perception of what happened isn’t important.
What I can tell you is that it looked hopeless. If you had known me in my early twenties and seen what was going on, you would have been very sure that I would never be able to have a good or even tolerable relationship with my mother. And for a long time that was true. But then things began to shift, and all of the sudden we could have a conversation without screaming at each other… sometimes. I could think of her without so many emotions of guilt and sadness and anger bombarding me that I needed to call into work. We could be on the same page on various topics as one another.
It’s taken many years, but now we are close. We talk regularly, we laugh together. I tell her what’s up in my world and I listen to what’s up in hers. We can meet each other in the middle and I can be so grateful for her being my mother and for all of the lessons that came from that.
I also have a 12-year-old son. He lives with my mother and has for about half his life now. There is, once again, a long story associated with that transition full of perceptions and ideas. I have found that other people have immediate assumptions and perceptions when they hear that I am not raising my son. And that is really hard, especially since I got into Ministerial School and people have all kinds of ideas about the types of people that are Ministers (or going to be).
I recently realized that when the decision was made for my son to live with my mom to be in a better school, I was dealing with unchecked severe mental illness in the form of depression and anxiety. All of the guilt that I have been harboring for so many years about the events leading up to his leaving were a result of that. So I can forgive myself and let it go. And even if I had been completely healthy, with no story of mental illness, I can still forgive myself and let it go. Because the story of all of that is really just the process that it took to arrive to today where everyone in the story is living happily ever after. I miss him dearly and I am sure he misses me. But he has an amazing home, he goes to one of the best schools in the world, and he is surrounded by family that loves, adores, and dotes on him. And in the meantime, I can be here, busting my ass taking classes full time to fulfill the calling of ministry that has been bubbling up from deep inside me since I was a child.
For those of you who are so in it, so in the hurt and the anger and the fear and the pain, it’s okay. You can let yourself off the hook. You can let your mother off the hook. You can let your child off the hook. You can let your body or your partner or your uterus off the hook. Whatever it is, there is Hope and there is Healing that is already present. This current story that you are telling is a part of your healing story. And whatever role you are playing in your own story of “Mother”, is okay. I see you. I love you. I honor you.
Happy Mother’s Day.