As this time of year approaches, I always start wrestling with my emotions about my birth mother. Growing up, my longing for a connection with her always intensified on Mother’s Day. It was a feeling that I tried to avoid the rest of the year, but on Mother’s Day, it was was inescapable.
On Mother’s Day, my siblings and I would make cards, buy flowers, or offer up whatever art project we had made in school. I was happy to show my appreciation, but inside I felt much differently. The days leading up to Mother’s Day always filled me with an overwhelming anxiety, and on Mother’s Day I always felt awkward and uncomfortable, despite my outward display of gratitude. I mostly hid my true feelings about my birth mother. She was the woman who thought she had given me up for a better life, and I felt there was no room for anything but gratitude.
On Mother’s Day, I was celebrating the mother I had, but I was pushing away feelings of hurt and anger for the mother I lost. To express these feelings meant admitting that I was missing something. That I wasn’t entirely satisfied when everyone around me had done their part to ensure my success. I had no idea how to verbalize my conflicting emotions. And so Mother’s Day would come, and I would grin and bear it. A week would pass, then a month, and the sharp pain became a dull ache for the rest of the year.
These are feelings that many will have on Mother’s Day, despite having loving families. I have many people in my life who love me including my adoptive parents, siblings, and extended family. I have a close group of loyal friends, and a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. And still that will never be enough to fulfill this longing.
We all have a different story, so there is a danger in saying that every adopted child feels this way, because some do not. I’m no expert, but I do think there is a certain healing effect when you can acknowledge the loss. Discuss it. Cry about it. And know that it doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful. Some of us will find closure in this lifetime, while others will have to learn to accept the unknown. So this is for anyone suffering from the loss of a mother, any mother, on Mother’s Day. Today you are not alone.