What My Mom & I Never Had

alone

Neither of my parents are alive. I lost my Dad when I was in my 20’s and my relationship with him was difficult and distant. I can’t recall a single “I love you.” But Mom was different. She loved me and I knew it. Our relationship was very tender. She was at every school event, every concert. She was my biggest fan, and she was the first one I would call when something good happened in my life. She died in 1995.

But it was complicated. I felt like we could have had a much deeper, genuine relationship. What did I do wrong?

This is Rob, Susan’s husband, writing today.

There were countless things that both my parents did and conveyed – out loud and silently – that made me feel terribly insecure. I felt like I was just not good enough. I left like life was just not good enough. Those were, are deep wounds and I still struggle with most of them.

Weird, I do not have even one photo of me with my Mom or with with my Dad.

While I love celebrating how wonderful Susan is as a mother to our five children, Mother’s Day is always a little tough for me in many ways.

When I read this from Jim Palmer it resonated with my heart. I wanted to share it with you today just in case this will be a tough Mother’s Day for you too…

Neither my mother or father are alive, and I’m typically quite conflicted about the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day holidays. I had a turbulent, painful, and estranged relationship with my mother, which I wrote extensively about in Divine Nobodies. I’m guessing there are others who woke up this morning with a heavy heart either because of the mother you lost and miss, or the mother you are not close to because of a lifetime of wounds and scars.

This is the day we say, “Happy Mother’s Day!” But maybe it’s not so “happy” for you. Perhaps you’re one of those people who will play the charade of giving a gift, sending a card or making a phone call out of obligation or guilt. Maybe you carry deep heartache from your relationship (or lack thereof) with your mother. Perhaps you’ve suffered from the disapproval, rejection, absence or abandonment of your mom. Maybe you will try to drum up some positive demeanor toward your mom on Mother’s Day even though you really feel nothing at all.

I understand.

There is no bridge that crosses the sea of sadness separating me and my mother. To this day the woman in those faded black-and-white photographs seems like a stranger. I carry a deep sorrow about what my mom and I never had. As I wrote in Divine Nobodies, “Some memories you carry around inside you like pieces of broken glass.”

In more recent years I’ve come to understand the sorrows and heartaches of my mother’s life that I was born into. No little girl says: “When I grow up, I want to be a mother who hurts and wounds my children. I want to reject them, abuse them, abandon them and damage them for life.” The truth is that damaged, wounded and hurt people often damage, wound and hurt others. That’s not an excuse, but it means any child could have been inserted into my place, and the damage, wounds and hurts would have still happened.

In other words, it wasn’t me.

These understandings have created feelings of compassion inside my heart for my mom. “Healing” for me has meant releasing myself from the false messages I adopted about myself as a result of the hurt experienced with my mom. “Healing” may not mean your relationship with your mother is fixed, restored, resolved or gets any better. Instead, “healing” may mean realizing that this fact is not preventing you from being at peace and free right now.

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About Susan Cottrell

Susan Cottrell is a national speaker, teacher, and counselor with years of Biblical study and discipleship experience. Her books include: "Mom, I'm Gay" - Loving Your LGBTQ Child Without Sacrificing Your Faith, and True Colors - Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You. Through her nonprofit organization - FreedHearts.org - Susan champions the LGBTQ community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that "loving God and loving others" are the foundation of the rest of the scripture, just as Jesus said. She is the Vice President of PFLAG Austin, and her books have been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, The Gay Christian Network and others. She and her husband have been married nearly 30 years and have five children - two of whom are in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas.