The Holidays can be extremely difficult for those who have been abused, but for me there are two days that stand out more than any others. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
As a mother, I love Mother’s day because it is a day the kids and I get to spend together. They truly are the lights of my life. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I won the child lottery with my two children. They’re growing into talented, giving, caring, and loving adults. I burst with pride at every accomplishment no matter how big or small.
Mother’s Day, however is also a double-edged sword for me. It is also a day that I have to acknowledge I never really had a mom. I never got to experience the mother-daughter relationship from the daughter’s side of it. I shopped alone for my prom dresses, did my own hair and make-up. I didn’t have a mom who would hold me when I needed to cry, encourage me when I felt I wasn’t good enough, and cheer me on when I tried something new.
Instead, I had a mom who left me with an abusive father so she could go off with another man, who made me feel so guilty I gave up the opportunity to be in a play one summer, who was more concerned with her friendship with another woman than repairing her relationship with her daughter, and then wanting to constantly re-write my abuse history because she can’t face the fact that the “golden boy”, her son, was one of my abusers.
So each year I stand in front of the card display trying to find a card that isn’t sappy because everything in those cards would be a lie for her and Hallmark doesn’t have a “I’m a success despite your horrible version of parenting” card.
Some would say, “well why are you sending her a card then?”. To them I say I am not a person who deliberately hurts another. I don’t make excuses for my mom. She was a horrible mom to me. I have my boundaries, I minimize contact so that I stay emotionally safe, but I also acknowledge she is the person who gave birth to me. She has her own mental and emotional issues. So each year I find a generic card, sign my name, and send it off to her. No flowery words, no fake gratitude.
Then I turn my attention to my kids. I spend the entire day with them. Which is no easy feat with two teenagers. We eat, we go to a movie or a play, we go to the park, we just spend time together. And it is the best feeling in the world. My kids will talk to me about anything going on with them. The know they can come to me and I’ll support them, hold them while they cry, and cheer them on while they chase their dreams.
To all who have been abused and are affected on Mother’s Day / Father’s Day I offer this advice. Find your own traditions for these days. Do not feel beholden to people who were supposed to protect you and didn’t. If you are not a parent, use this day to pamper yourself. Go get a mani/pedi, see a show, walk barefoot in the park. If you are a parent, focus on your kids. Spend the day being a kid again with them. Go to the park and play tag, go to the zoo, tap into your inner child.
Above all else, protect yourself on these days. Love yourself because you are worth it!