I logged onto Facebook the other day and saw a dear friend post: "of course I always knew my mama loved me, but I never knew how much until I had my baby!"
These sentiments are commonly shared between first-time mamas. You hear it time and time again.
Women have their first child and realize the sacrifice, the grace, and the love that their mothers have for them, and the new mother's gratitude overflows, and the irreplaceable bond between a mother and her daughter becomes even deeper, stronger, and more intimate.
The new set of eyes given through motherhood allows her to see her mother in clear view, and she is in awe of the woman who raised her...
But what if she's not?
What if her new eyes remind her of her experience of pain, rejection, neglect, abuse? What if her overwhelming love for her new child reveals the lack of love she experienced from her own mother?
Am I the only new mom who experienced this reverse effect? Am I the only woman who drew closer to her due date with fear and panic about how becoming a mother would bring up hurt and pain and loss?
I can't be.
I know I'm not.
But sometimes, it feels like it.
After almost a year of counseling, prayer, intimate conversation with my sisterhood, unimaginable vulnerability with my husband, tears, wine, mothering my own wounds, remembering trauma, facing fear, claiming truth instead of lies, setting boundaries, protecting boundaries, and most importantly being gentle with myself, I have learned that navigating new motherhood while motherless is hard, and that it hurts to have a mother but not be able to trust her.
I described it to a friend that mothering while motherless leaves you feeling like you have been walking on a broken leg all day, only to look down and realize, not only is your leg broken, but you have also been punched in the stomach.
Mothering while motherless leaves you equal parts lost and equal parts found.
I am lost. Inside, I am a little girl. Unkempt. Shaken. Snotty-nosed and teary eyed, in an oversized t-shirt, clutching my hands as my only comfort, asking, "Where is my mother? I need her. Will she ever come for me?
I am found.
Outside, I have a little girl. Secure. Attached. Bright eyed and dancing smile, in an oversized t-shirt, lifting her hands to me for comfort. Babbling, "My mother! She is here! She always comes for me." When I reach for her, when I respond to her needs, when I give her security,
I am not only the mother my child needs, but I am also mothering the child in me.
For all the motherless, consider "mother." Not just the one you had, but the one you need. Not just the one you are, but the one you desire to be. Confront what is lost, and embrace what is found.
For all the motherless, this is us, becoming mother.