Behind Closed Doors: Being There

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I am reminded daily of my mother; she is hard to avoid.  She pops up whenever motherhood is even briefly in the air, when a colleague talks about their children, when a friend mentions theirs, in advertising, on social media, on television, in  emails telling me I should buy her flowers on the 26th.  She is everywhere and nowhere, all at once.

I sat in the back row at her funeral, my unendingly supportive husband gripping my hand.  It had been just over 13 years since she had left us and we’d met only twice in that time, both on horribly sad family occasions.  I couldn’t bear to look at her, I was so angry still, even after all those years.  Just like I was angry as I tried to push my way through my GCSEs (she left in the middle of them), as I dropped out of my A Levels (I had never failed at anything before then), as I gave up on the career I had always dreamed of and pushed myself up the ladder of one I had never even considered to be for me.  Needs must.

Just like I was angry when I was ill and she had no idea; when my heart was broken and she wasn’t there.  Just like when she missed my wedding day, the day that I had become sure would never happen because what she had done meant I could barely believe someone could really love me as unconditionally as (I now know) my husband does.

Just like I was angry when she took her own life.  When she sentenced me to a lifetime of fear that 16 year old me telling her I didn’t want to see her eventually lead to that.  When she committed the ultimate selfish act.

And I am angry now.  I am angry because for all my outward insistence that I’m not sure I ever want to have my own children I know deep down that actually, I really do.  And I am angry because I am afraid.  I’m so very afraid that I will do what she did.  Afraid that I will resent my children so much that I will be incapable of loving them forever the way a mother is supposed to, the way that she was supposed to love me.

But I am also determined, aways have been, and she couldn’t take that away (not least because I clearly did not get it from her).  That un-planned career is going very well; my husband is utterly amazing and tells me every single day how much he loves me; I have the most grounding, faithful and infinitely patient friends you could ever wish for.

I will never have her again, and I can’t even remember any of the good times I am sure we did have together when I was small, but I will always have the strength she gave me when she walked away.  The strength I have had to build up to keep going and the strength that I am reminded of daily when she comes to mind.

Perhaps one day, not too far away, that strength will be enough for me to be sure that I could bring my own children in to this world and give them strength and determination too, but instead of it being rooted in a need to get by, that strength and determination will be borne out of a daily reminder that I will always be there for them.  No matter what.

Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Life Experience
7 interesting thoughts on this

7 Comments

  1. Posted March 26, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Oh, OP, i couldn’t read and run… Every mother’s day I find myself thinking of friends and family who do not have their mother in their life for whatever reason, and how hard it must be to have the annual reminders and bombardment.
    I’m so sorry that you are one of these but so pleased that you have had your husband by your side..

  2. katylkh
    Posted March 26, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I didn’t want to leave without commenting but your experience is so different from my own I don’t know quite what to say beyond you are clearly a strong person making your own choices different from your own mother’s and I’m sure if you did choose to have kids you would be an excellent and self aware parent.

    As a retail worker I’m sorry about the mother’s day barrage of advertising. Unfortunately although I know it’sa touchy subject for some we do need to drive those customers in some how and for a lot of people it works well… I’ve definitely taken advantage in my store! Sorry to be part of the problem.

  3. Amanda
    Posted March 26, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I think if you’ve had a bad childhood, the scars never quite heal and you’re painfully aware of the damage a parent can do to a child. But your relationship with your husband sounds wonderful – and you do have a parenting pattern to follow: the opposite of your own. I wish you happiness and love from here on. Sounds like you’re already on that path.

  4. Raluca
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I’m so sorry you had to go through all of this. However, the strength you have is absolutely commendable and you seem to have found great support in your husband, which is truly heartwarming. Kudos for allowing yourself to be loved and to trust in someone else again, it’s especially difficult when your heart has been broken by one of the people who should have loved you the most.

  5. Gemma
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Dear anon – it’s not the same, at all, but I grew up without my mum when she died when I was 4, and then from when I was 11 I had a super full on stepmother who, suffice to say, made it really difficult for me to live with my dad and my sister at home and was dealing with some of the issues it sounds like your mum was. Before I got pregnant, while I was pregnant, and even some days with my 10 month old I’m petrified that I’ll repeat either my stepmother’s unhealthy patterns or try to make up for the absence of a mother, the absence of happy memories of being mothered by my mother and get it horribly wrong because I’ve got no real life examples. But then I look to the other people in my life. I look at women I’m close to, like my mother in law and sister in law, who are wonderful mothers – both incredibly different to me in loads of ways, but both of whom love fiercely and their children know it. I look at friends (a lot of the women who met through AOW actually) who are also incredible mothers, who also love fiercely. And I also look at friends, both my age and older, who for whatever reason, chosen or not chosen, don’t have children and won’t. And yet in their friendship, support and love, I see examples of the kind of nurturer, lover, friend and supporter I want to be, and I do my best to try to pass that on to my child. I have given this issue sooooooooooooooooooo much thought (I’d also recommend the somewhat dated and yet still useful self help books ‘Motherless Daughters’ and ‘Motherless Mothers’ by Hope Edelman which my aunt, who had my cousins after my grandmother died, recommended to me) and am no doubt rambling here but if having children is what you and your (absolutely wonderful, by the sounds of it) husband want to do, you will mother those children perfectly. Not necessarily Instagram perfectly, not necessarily as a serene hybrid of Nigella/Mrs Brady/The mum from Angela’s Ashes/The Virgin Mary/Mrs March from Little Women, but perfectly for them because they’re yours and that’s what you’ll instinctively, naturally do. All of us, no matter who we are, no matter our mothers, are susceptible to post natal depression or baby blues or feeling like we can’t cope with having a baby – . All of us also have the capacity to build our own families by choosing the people, friends and blood relations, that we surround ourselves with. I think the fact you’re thinking about maybe resenting your children means that you won’t ever. Not in the same way your own mother did. You sound like you’ve come through a difficult childhood with grace and triumphed over what would have had many of us on the floor with self pity. I have no doubt you’ll bring those strong determined children into the world. xx

  6. Fee
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Sending you a huge amount of love. I think Gemma has just completely knocked it out of the park with her comment but the bit that really stood out for me was ‘All of us also have the capacity to build our own families by choosing the people, friends and blood relations, that we surround ourselves with.’

    It may not feel like it but you are so much more than your past, believe in yourself that you are the person your husband sees, your friends see. Wishing you all the luck for the future xx

  7. Ro
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Oh OP, I’m so sorry you’ve been through so very much.

    Gemma’s comment was wonderful; I absolutely agree that you will not nescessarily follow paths set by those you grew up with if you go into parenthood with a thoughtful perspective on healthy family relationships and ask advice and support from those you love and respect.

    Although not my mum, I have also lost a parent to suicide. I’m sorry you have too, grieving a suicide is especially painful.

    I had/still in part have a difficult relationship with my mum and not replicating my relationship with her with any children I had made me very nervous of becoming a mother. To the extent that when pregnant I was partly hoping for a boy to avoid mother/daughter dynamics. I have an almost 3year old daughter and am genuinely so very glad to have a girl, to lay some of those ghosts to rest and realise our relationship in no way reflects my relationship with my mum. So far anyway!! Parenting in my own way has felt liberating. I hope you might one day find the same.

    The AOW crew can pass on my contact details if you want to be in touch more. Xx

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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