This Sunday, we are celebrating Mother’s Day, but for some of us we approach that special day with a bit of sadness, resentment or even anger as “unmothered daughters.” We don’t post pictures of us with our mothers on Facebook, calling her the best mom in the world, and we don’t have a special celebration giving her flowers and gifts. We cherish being honored ourselves, but wish the past could be re-written to be more like Leave It To Beaver instead of Mommie Dearest.
If you are like me, you don’t get the “warm fuzzies” when you think of your mother and the relationship you had growing up. Instead of nurturing you as a child, encouraging you as a teenager and supporting you as a young adult, you had someone who was not equipped to be a mother and did not serve as a role model as the “ideal mom” you always wished for. It has been through sheer will power and creating the life you desired, not what you had, that you have become the woman you are today. Congratulations on persevering, and on not giving in to the pattern that was handed down through the generations.
I actually have two mothers who have shaped me in a roundabout way. First, I have a birth mother who gave me up for adoption when I was a newborn. In 2013, after a 22-year search and high hopes of a new relationship, I was crushed in finding out she has no interest in meeting me. So, the pattern of rejection continued. It has been through some deep healing work that I have acknowledged her rejection and the effect it has had on me all these years. Through this process, I have let go of the feeling of abandonment from her, and I have embraced that I am loved, worthy and precious in God’s sight. I no longer feel like I have to keep striving for perfection just to be respected and valued by others.
I have let go of the hope of having the “real” family I had always dreamed of having, and realize that I am where I am today because I was placed on a different path. I created the family I wanted, not because I experienced it growing up, but because I saw what I didn’t want, and I had a vivid picture in my dreams of what could be. My real family begins with me, and my legacy will reflect a deep love that transcends rejection, abandonment and conditional love.
I have also forgiven my adopted mother, but not until after it was too late to tell her. I know that she simply did not have the ideal mother modeled for her either, and looking back, I realize that depression permeated her own family. She was doing the best she could, and it has taken me a long time to acknowledge that as well.
Sometimes, when I mention the word “unmothered daughter” to friends, I get a very emotional reaction. “That was me!” or “Oh, now I have a word for it!” One dear friend’s father died when she was only nine years old, and she became the mom to her younger sister while their mother worked two jobs. She lost her childhood and grew up way too early. One friend’s mother was only 18 when she was born, and blamed her for all the years of freedom she lost as a young adult. Others have shared stories of abuse and alcoholism, and I have other adopted friends who have dealt with the same feelings of rejection and abandonment that I have over the years. But we are all survivors, and we have all become stronger women—and better mothers—because of what we chose to create for ourselves.
If you are part of our “sisterhood,” it is extremely important for you to acknowledge your feelings as an unmothered daughter, and how they have impacted your life over the years. Chances are, you have deep-rooted emotions that cause you to doubt yourself and your value, and make you feel like you are never quite good enough. You must trade your negative beliefs for positive ones, knowing that you are strong, and you are capable of doing anything you want to do, in spite of your background.
As I said, I have created the life I dreamed of, with a 37-year-long marriage, three amazing adult children who love the Lord and are happy in their own lives, and a career that allows me to help other women discover their own purpose so they, too, can break out of old patterns and live with joy and self-fulfillment. I have an extended family of cousins who I love dearly. I am surrounded by a community of girlfriends who are my “God-gifted sisters.” I am a mother, grandmother and child of God. What more could I ask for?
If you are an unmothered daughter and would like to talk to someone who knows what you feel, let’s talk. The healing begins when you open up, let the emotions come flooding out, and embrace the amazing woman and mother you have become in spite of it all. Click here to contact me and we will schedule a call.
The Flourishing Life logo began as a lotus flower, and today has special meaning for me. The lotus flower grows in muddy water and rises above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty. At night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again. God created this beautiful flower as a symbol of beauty that rises above all odds. May we as unmothered daughters be the graceful, beautiful and resilient lotus flowers in our families and the world.