today i took part in a motherless daughters group call. yes, after 26 years of motherless mother’s days, i found myself called to the call. hosted by authors hope edelman and claire bidwell smith , i joined a group of over four hundred women worldwide, to share insight, feelings (and a few survival techniques!) around mother’s day. without a mother. this culturally sanctioned way and day to celebrate can often arrive as a mixed bag of, please-remove-all-the-mother’s-day-cards-from-the-aisle-and-ban-the-commercials-and-clever-gift-ideas- from-my-purview-please, with a side order of sad, topped with a generous heap of insensitivity, thus resulting in a malaise of fervently pissed off.
i have followed hope since she released her book “motherless daughters”, 25 years ago this year. the salvation found in every woman’s story of loss, and her own, created a virtual community of understanding, of knowing, of sameness, permission and allowance—right there in my very own missing-my-mom, new york city living room. the same as it did today. only now, i am the mother of two, living in chicago. i am much older, but equally sideswiped by the encroaching festivities. as the hosts spoke, the women dashed off messages to one another on the side. nods of agreement. alternative ideas. encouragement and i’m sorrys.
the lifelong process of healing and dealing, has been less than linear. some days easier than others. some years so heavy, you plot how you will Houdini your way out of your own self-imposed armor to make it to brunch. each milestone and tidbit of news that spurs the itch to ring, write or send a carrier pigeon into the universe of missing your momness, hits when you least expect it. so into the wild wilderness of the great unmothered, unknown we go.
today on the call, hope and claire suggested carrying on a two-tired relationship with your mother, ways to live with her absence. the one of loss and the one of an inner relationship. accepting and leaning into an imaginal life with her. i was recently prompted by claire, in her new book, to write to my mother. as a writer for much of my work life, i had never thought to write into the ether. what kind of stamp would that require? in times of confusion, unaccountable heartache, or longing-simply take to the pen. and i did. and it felt like a delicious salve. dear mom, if you could see my girls, it began.
in a recent tedx talk, a psychologist shared that when we write, the pre-frontal cortex actually responds in healing. writing to her, or imagining her writing to you, can actually craft healing in the brain and in turn the heart. calming the parasympathetic nervous system straight out of fight or flight into perceived equanimity. in essence, a mothering of yourself.
all of 26 years later, i am still finding ways to find my mom in my day to day. to feel less unmothered. this year, my youngest daughter surprised me with a trip to share the day with my you-wish-you-had-one-like-mine, sister. what a gift on so very many fronts. new traditions awakening in all of the many years that have passed. while we have been together on this day before, that my fifteen year old daughter thought it the perfect surprise, left me heart warmed. stories written and unfurled. a means to awaken our innermost relationship. the one that resides and lives on inside. i am heading the call. this is my mother’s day.