Editor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes every mom enjoyed her Mother’s Day on May 10 and every dad is looking forward to Father’s Day on June 21. This week, in honor of all mothers, API gives you a special “Inspired Mothers” celebration. We hope these posts inspire you in your parenting journey.
As this year’s Mother’s Day was approaching, I found that I was thrilled to spend time with my kids. I actively left the day free of scheduled activities so that we could be fully engaged together doing whatever came up that we enjoy. But with this excitement, there was also a touch of grief and sadness as I recognized that last year my mother passed away just a few days after Mother’s Day.
I didn’t always have the best relationship with my mother, as there were many challenges. My mother had a mental illness that kept her emotionally unavailable at times. Her symptoms often caused strain and hardships, and her ability to parent me was impacted.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I was terrified as I didn’t want to parent in the same way I had experienced from my childhood. A few months after giving birth to my oldest daughter, I found my way to API. I was tremendously relieved to find an organization that offered language around what I was doing instinctively. I knew I needed to know more about each of API’s Eight Principles of Parenting. I wanted to learn as much as possible, because I understood that I was stepping into unknown territory.
My parents did the best they could with the information they had at the time. My mother shared her love with me the only way she knew how and the only way her mind and body would allow her to.
Finding my way to API was a gift in that I was now given the opportunity to gather information that was not available to my parents. I could raise my children within an attached framework, while also sharing with my parents the knowledge I was absorbing. As I became more confident in my parenting skills, I was able to express to my mother the many reasons why I was doing what I was doing with my daughters. She began to understand and would often share how she wished she had this information when I was a baby.
She would comment to me on how lovely my daughters were and how they were growing up into beautiful, young ladies. She knew that I held a connection with my daughters that we did not share, and I could feel her sadness around this grief — her wishing things could have been different when she was a young mother.
My mother’s death has allowed me insight into who she was as a person and why she did things the way she did. I have found that even the things I thought were unfair or done differently than I would have liked were also being held with as much love as she could offer in that moment. Her love was shown in many different ways.
As I sat with my mother in May of 2014, I asked her what she wanted her family to know after she passed. She began by telling me a brief story about each of her siblings, my father, my brothers, my sister and me, but she stopped herself before she could finish and she looked at me. She told me to forget all those stories and to forget everything she mentioned. She told me to tell everyone that the only thing that mattered was love and that, no matter what had happened in the past, she loved each and every one of us.
It was in that moment that I knew my mother loved me.