I've been avoiding this blog post for about 4 years, but I am finally ready to share it with all of you. So here we go.
When I was 4 or 5 my mom was deemed disabled by the State of Minnesota. It was pretty traumatic for me. My parents separated, and we saw my mom sporadically for what felt like a few years, and then every other weekend for another few years for a few hours. Our relationship consisted of phone calls and care packages. Mother's day is a hard one for me because while I have a mom, it's been a long journey to come to terms with my relationship with her. I wanted to write about my experience in hopes that there may be one of you that have had similar feelings and to share that you are not alone.
For those that are new here, my mom has a mental illness that has precluded her from a lot of things in life. She also lives in northern Minnesota on the Canadian border, so traveling for her and for us is extremely difficult, especially growing up. Having school and multiple jobs with zero money made it hard to go see her. She has really made a huge effort to be there for me over the years over the telephone, and through therapy and time, my confusion and wounds have mostly healed, and I have been able to accept her effort. When I was growing up it was a different story, and I always felt like I was lacking something because I didn't have a mom to come home to cry to or bake cookies with, or do normal mom stuff, and I really didn't want to accept our relationship. I also had a ton of guilt because I felt this way about her and that I needed to make more effort, etc. I also didn't understand her disability and thought she could have just tried harder, but that was very naive.
Over the years, I have seen people make fun of my mom for her disability, and it was very confusing, hard to see, and just sad. People literally called her "Special K" in front of me (her name is Karen). It was pathetic, but now that I am older, I know that experiencing comments and judgment about her disability made me who I am. It helped me become the attorney I am with the integrity I have. I can genuinely say that I see people in a more empathetic light, with an understanding of what people and family members with those who are disabled go through. I have stood in court and acted with respect and care with our victims and defendants who suffered from a disability. In addition, seeing her journey has made me fully support and advocate for taking care of your mind, body, and spirit. I have seen firsthand the way mental health impacts your life when you don't take care of yourself. It can be scary. (if you want a post on this more, I would be happy to write!) It doesn't mean something is wrong with you because you have anxiety, depression, bipolar, an eating disorder, PTSD, ADHD, etc! It's NORMAL.
Switching gears a bit, if you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen my sister on there a lot. We developed a special bond when we were younger because she took care of me when my mom wasn't able to. She made sure I was up for school, ate all my meals, and was kind to others. Most siblings can just be siblings, but she and I were forced to kind of take care of ourselves and each other. It's been really great watching my sister become a mother over the last decade. Meagan is such a good mom who is raising an intelligent, kind, and funny little girl. It's been nice living close to her because I was always scared to be a mom because I felt like I don't really know how to be, but I know it will be amazing. This relationship was a bit hard for me though because at times it was hard to separate the fact that she was my sister and not a caretaker. It's not her responsibility to fill the void for my mom, and no one can expect that from her. I have a lot of respect for her for what she did for me, and I am grateful God put her in my life during that period.
In addition to my sister being there for me in life, I also had moms step up for me in big ways over the years. There are a few people who really stepped up and took care of me subtly and showed me, love, when I was growing up and needed resources. They didn't need to do this, but they did, and I will always be grateful. I am not going to name names, but I am sure you know who you are if you are reading this :) I never told anyone openly about my home situation until probable college. I stayed so busy in volleyball and extracurricular to avoid being home and dealing with it. It worked out okay, but I wish I would have asked my dad and my stepmom to see a therapist (or even knew about therapy). I think I would have made different decisions during my younger years if I would have learned coping tools earlier. However, I am grateful I was able to learn them a little bit later. I am also so grateful for my dad who was not just a dad but did it all. He helped me through all the major parts of life and found me, people, to talk to when I needed some motherly advice. Shout out to the single parents out there, you're the MVPs in my eyes.
Last, during mother's day, I am also hyper-aware of my friends who have lost their moms and have lost their ability to be a mom. I fully support recognizing the moms that have made a difference because I believe moms are the most underappreciated humans on the face of the earth. However, I realize there is a whole subset of the population that doesn't respond well to this holiday. If you're one of those people, I hope that you do something today that you enjoy and that fills you up!
Thanks for reading,