Mother's Day is approaching and card stores and grocery stores are filled with lovely greeting cards praising every aspect of motherhood: "You've been the best mother anyone could have," "ever-loving, sweet, kind," "always there for me," "unconditional love," "a mother's love never fails," etc.
For the majority of human beings, these sentiments are true. But for millions of others, nothing could be farther from the truth. But those persons--victims of a loveless mother--rarely speak up about the abuse or pain they suffered at the hands and heart of the very person who was supposed to give unconditional love and be a source of support, encouragement, comfort, happiness, protection and lifelong love.
Those with loving mothers often bash any who dare to speak otherwise about the person who bore them. "She brought you into this world! How dare you say anything bad about her?!? Shame on you!" Those who can't relate may minimize the matter by stating that their mother could be "feisty, or stubborn, sometimes hard to deal with." That is not what I'm talking about here.
Being "feisty or stubborn" is not the same as a mother being malicious, manipulative, deceitful, jealous or even harmful and wicked toward their own child. It happens. Imagine, if you can, a pastor saying to an adult child upon the mother's death, "...in all my years of ministry, I've never met anyone as evil as was your mother." Contrary to the experience of most, some mothers make "Mommie Dearest" look like Mother Teresa.
Just because a negative mothering experience was not your experience doesn't mean it isn't possible or doesn't happen. And just because someone gave birth does not mean that they are automatically the loving, maternal kind. Their "love" can be like a hurricane.
The fact is many people--not only as a child, but even into their own adulthood--experience ongoing emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of their biological mothers.
For one, there's Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy (MSP/MSBP). This is an actual psychiatric disorder in which a mother does things to make their child physically sick, sometimes resulting in repeated hospital admissions, repeated procedures, injections, even surgeries to 'rule out' this or that possibility. The mother seeks and gains praise for being so devoted, loving and longsuffering throughout it all, but the child is subjected to a battery or unnecessary procedures and medications.
MSP affects not only little children, but there is also an "adult" version of MSP in which these mothers do unimaginable things to their adult children, again, in order to gain praise or sympathy for themselves.
Even if there is no medical name for some mothers' misdeeds, sometimes people are purely mean, evil and manipulative. Mothers can sometimes be jealous of their child--especially their daughters--and may do things to minimize, discourage, or even undermine and/or discredit the child in the eyes of others. Many times these offspring suffer in silence, but occasionally they speak out because it can be freeing to finally let the truth be known. Some speak out quietly, as in Post Secret, while others do it publicly and in some detail.
One memorable example: In August 2008 the editors at the Vallejo, CA Times-Herald were reportedly stunned when they received the obituary for a Dolores Aguilar. A daughter who wrote the obit on behalf of her very large family spoke not of how 'sweet, kind and loving' the mother was, but instead, she stated (excerpts): "...I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing...amongst ourselves we will remember her in our own way, which were mostly sad and troubling times throughout the years. We may have some fond memories of her and perhaps we will think of those times, too. But...all of us will really only miss what we never had: a good and kind mother, grandmother and great-grandmother... As for the rest of us left behind, I hope this is the beginning of a time of healing and learning to be a family again."
Many people blasted the author for her words about her mother, but many others applauded her, stating that she likely spoke the truth that others usually don't say, and others hadn't lived in her shoes or their home.
A follow-up posting (claiming to be the daughter-author of Aguilar's obituary said that she (Virginia) and her siblings many times told her mother while she was alive how much damage she did "and continued to do to her children." She also stated that the obituary caused no disagreement among the siblings because they "all knew what we went through." And therein lies what others need grasp.
No one really knows what happens behind closed doors...even with "mothers" toward their children. It's hard to believe and painful to accept, but recognize that it does happen.
Mother's Day is usually a time to celebrate all the wonderful things mothers do, and the great people mothers are to their children, and we do that for all deserving mothers. But this post comes to give voice to those who had that 'different' experience. Know that there are millions out there just like you. If you not only survived, but with strength of character and self-determination, have thrived in spite of your "mother's" misdeeds, you can have a great day, week, and full, rich life.
Was this your experience? Feel free to comment below; and I am currently preparing a book about these type mothers and the children who experienced them. If you are one of these, please share your story with me more fully (offline, not posted to this page/site; and no more than 300 words for now). I will hold your story confidentially and contact you at a later date. Email me through the "Email blogger' icon below, or through my website, and I will contact you. Thank you.
See the latest E-Book: First Do No Harm: How to Heal Your Relationships Using the Wisdom of Professional Caregivers
Living Well, Despite Catchin' Hell, a book about health, sex and happiness, with a foreword by Pauletta Washington, musician and wife of Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington. Endorsed by psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere and others. Includes comparative data for Black, White, Hispanic, Asian and Native American women. The book also addresses the effects of negative stereotypes. (print and eBook).