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Mothering in the Minus

Mothering through an absent mother relationship is not the journey I envisioned for myself. I grew up with the example of my paternal grandmother who was the epitome of a mother. The love she had for her family was felt the moment you pulled into her driveway. She passed when I was pregnant with my first daughter. A month after my 27th birthday. I gave birth to my daughter in the same house, her living room to be exact,  I spent so many occasions gathering with my family as a young girl.

With each pregnancy I have had this deep longing to repair my relationship with my own mother. It’s been heavily strained since I first became a teen. After many attempts, things just never seemed to get back on track. I knew for sure that her only daughter having daughters would make her heart turn towards us and wrap us all up. Although it’s a painful truth, the capacity for her to give that to us is just not there. It’s hurtful. It’s sad. It makes me angry sometimes. It’s overall disappointing. Often times I feel that I am on this tight rope of longing and acceptance. Grieving what I wish could be but accepting what actually is. With each pregnancy. Each birth. Each breastfeeding journey. Each milestone. I feel myself teetering a bit on that tightrope but never losing my balance. My head is up and focused on getting to the other side.

How did I make it this far? How do I keep going? Those are things I think about often. I will say the prayers and love of my paternal grandmother and aunts, friends, sisters, and elders I've gained along the way have kept me. Women who continue to see me and support me. Although they could never replace my mother they make this road less lonely to travel.

I remember sitting at the feet of my grandmother and learning about where i came from. My heart hurts that my girls don’t have this. I saw these girls in my dreams so I know that I am on the right path. A few nights ago I wept because I had no mother to hold me during this new phase of life I’m transitioning into. Tonight as I held my baby girl and rocked her to sleep I felt a shift in my spirit. I realized that it is a gift, not only to them but to the little girl in me, to be able to hold them everyday. One day 30 years from now when my youngest baby is pregnant with her baby she will have her mama to hold her. She will also have her mama to hold her baby. That is the healing I’m working on as a mother.

To my mother. Thank you. Thank you for being the vessel my soul chose to bring me through into this physical world. I know that this is my assignment. To heal the women who all came before me in my lineage. Thank you for showing me why prioritizing doing the work is so nonnegotiable. I know that I am lessening the burden my own daughters will feel when it comes to continuing this healing journey in our lineage. I pray that one day, when she becomes an ancestor, she will be able to be the true guide we needed her to be in this physical realm.

To my baby girls. Thank you for teaching me what it means to be curious, kind, compassionate, honest, and loving. Thank you for providing me with new eyes to see the world. Thank you for being patient with your mama. Thank you for keeping me accountable. Thank you for seeing me for who I am. Thank you for being a soft place for my inner child to land. I pray one day, if you all choose to be mamas, that you will never feel alone. Well you probably won’t because we are all going to live down the street from each other. I pray you always know your mama is one call, one car ride, or one flight away. There is nothing in this world that would keep me from not only loving you but showing up for you in whatever capacity you need. I knew and God knew that I needed y’all.

For the mamas like me. The mamas mothering in the minus. I just want you to know it is not your responsibility to carry it all. To carry the complete burden of healing the women who came before you in this one lifetime. Pour into yourself. Love on yourself. Allow space for yourself to feel and sit in the emotions that sometimes come crashing like waves. Know that the shortcomings of your mother is not a reflection of your worth. Lean into those who love you and show up for you. Strive to do what you can for your babies from a place of love. Rid yourself of the need to be perfect. Show yourself compassion for navigating this road with an empty map. I’m right there with you. Release the fear that you will become her. You are not her.

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