Mothering without a Mother

For me Mother’s Day is bitter sweet. I love it because I get to celebrate with my kids but it also makes me a bit sad because I grew up without my mother. So, I wanted to share with all of those mothers out there that grew up without their mother that you are not alone.

Growing up my mother left when I was very young. We have had contact over the years but nothing that I would consider a true mother daughter bond. So it was my dad and I along with a couple of stepmothers for my childhood journey. I had to be very independent from a young age so when my husband and I decided to start our own family, I was a bit at a lost on how to be a mother. Who do I turn to when I had questions? Where do I get my influences from? All I knew was truly how not to be a mother. Fortunately, I had some very positive women influences in my life from friend’s mothers to my own extended family so I had somewhere to start.

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When I was pregnant with our first child I knew that I wanted to be loving (still wasn’t quite sure what that would entail), patient, someone my children could always come to with a problem, and firm. How I was going to accomplish this was completely beyond me. Raised with my father as my constant parent, he did create an environment for me to always feel comfortable coming to him with any problem. Still to this day when I need some advice or a shoulder to cry on besides my husband I call him. I know he did everything he knew how to try and fill the roll of my mother but there was just no way for him to replace the need and want of a mom.

When my daughter was born, I loved her more than I could have ever imagined. But I was and still am at times unsure of myself and question if I am doing everything right. I know we all have these concerns as a mother but I don’t have my mom to call to ask all the questions. I luckily have a couple trusted family and friends but it still isn’t the same.

The first year was hard, I am very open about enjoying my children more once they turned one. The struggle to balance the lack of sleep (my kids are 15 months apart), having very little help, the complete dependence, and I think a bit of postpartum made it very difficult for me to truly enjoy their infancy. Once they gained a little independence I felt pure enjoyment of my children. Looking back now that I am out of the fog, I wonder if I had had the help of my mother if I would have enjoyed that time more. Someone who had given birth to me to share stories and memories. Also someone who just knew to come over and make me take a nap even in protest. None of this will ever happen for me but now I know how to mother my child when the time comes.

Also growing up without a mother I am always protecting myself and maybe not in the way people would think. I am not one to hide behind my problems and not talk about them. I am the opposite. I talk about everything. I believe I do this to protect myself. This is how I put it out there to others and say if you can’t handle this then we are just not meant to be friends. I have found that it had helped me to weed people out very quickly so I can move on with important friendships. In these relationships I feel secure and comfortable. So the lack of mother may have helped me with these friendships but in now way takes away the want of a mom.

Everyday I wonder if I am being a good mother. Did I yell at them today out of frustration? Am I creating a path that they would be proud to follow? Am I remembering enough childhood stories for them? I have only been told a handful of childhood stories in my life so I don’t have much of a shared memory of my childhood. I know that is not unique to me but I feel like I have to work a lot harder just because I didn’t have a constant example to draw from. I just have bits and pieces from the wonderful mothers I have encountered in my life. So Mother’s Day is a blessing and empty for me. I just try to remind myself that I can’t look backward only forward from here.

Written by Jamie Jackson