Longing for Mothering: A Catalog of a Rough Night

The death of your mother never becomes easy to deal with. It may get easier over time, but it never gets easy.

Everyday something is there to remind me that I am motherless. The phone call to ask how I am doing today never comes. The invitation to spontaneous dinner never happens, and I am never sent out the door with home-made leftovers. There is no card on my birthday or congratulations on my promotion or graduation. Motherly advice that comes commingled with nurturing and loving assurance is a rarity. Unconditional mother-love, the kind of love that alleviates pain in times of sadness, uneasiness, or malady, is never again experienced. Seeing the joy in someone’s eyes that I am alive, growing, and finding my way is fleetingly reflected from time to time in my mirror, but never by the one person who might have given it to me face to face. After all, no one loves you the way your mother does, or did, or at least should have.

Everyday I am on edge, gripped by the perpetual anxiety I have developed from a sense of premature abandonment. Seeing others with their moms often irritates me. Its not a jealous reaction, its that it exacerbates the loss I live with. My opportunities to be a daughter are diminished. My physical experience is cut off from the living wheel of blood, of birth, of connected encircled womanhood. I no longer feel intertwined with my birthed-generations. My opportunities for that are gone. I feel cheated.

In all honesty the life I had as a mother’s daughter was awful. The demons my mother inherited nearly always ruled her character. Our relationship was clouded by her inability to authentically navigate her personal challenges. From an early age I was un-mothered. However, it wasn’t until my early twenties my mother actually passed away. And yet, because she was alive I was a daughter, contextualized by her living, breathing being. Once the mother dies, the universe transforms to the female child from daughter to former daughter – leaving her orphaned and haunted by her prior identity.

The lack of a living mother-daughter relationship instantaneously rips the born identity away from the bereft. The grief consummately begins to transform the motherless daughter, requiring personal redefinition in nearly all aspects of the female life. Relating to other women, relating to men, approaching milestones such as partnership, marriage, deciding to parent, pregnancy and labor; all of these natural progressions become bittersweet.

For those like myself, there is a substantial doubt that accompanies the female rites of passage; I often doubt that I am woman enough to survive or endure. I have an insatiable desire for more mothering, always feeling that I haven’t fully gathered the necessary skills, knowledge, and perhaps love, to fully embody “woman”. In my despair, intensified by my loss, defined by the absence of mothering, grows panic and self doubt.

Somewhat infrequently I experience a resonate feeling with others, with nature, with the mother-goddess. Belonging to the dead-mother’s club has yet to afford me with much solace, and yet it defines me in the deepest absolute most days. I move through each day feeling somewhat severed, and yet never recognized as wounded by those around me. Wounded is very correct. Able to continue, but with extra strife. Damaged, but not obviously harmed. Critically sensitive, but not distressed to the point of being socially unacceptable – at least not always.

Tonight’s memoir captures my emptiness, my longing for mothering on what I refer to as “a rough night”.


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