Although I had two mothers and two fathers, my biological set and my adoptive set, I didn't feel either of them deserved hearing a wish let alone receiving a gift. But I played the role anyway, telling myself that I could fake my love for them for at least one day.
Then I grew out of my selfish childhood and teen years.
When I became a mother, I finally realized how difficult parenting was. That realization helped me appreciate my parents, each in their unique way. Although I still struggled to forgive their transgressions as parents, I tried to take the high road by not engaging in a toxic or codependent relationship. Instead, I set boundaries that I was comfortable with and that were healthy for my kids.
I've never met my biological mother. I know where she lives, I know all about her from other biological relatives who see her frequently, but she wanted nothing to do with me. She said I am a "painful memory of my father," who was deceased before I ever knew about him.
Adopted right at birth, the only mother I knew was a verbally abusive, emotionally cold alcoholic. We had a rocky relationship at best. The only father I knew was a physically abusive alcoholic. We had a worse-than-rocky relationship.
Although I didn't know it at the time, after my mother passed away almost 20 years ago, I found a bunch of her writings and learned how unhappy and traumatic her childhood was. I also learned how very unhappy she was with my father. In addition, I learned she had suffered three miscarriages and a stillborn delivery prior to adopting me.
To those who are struggling with feelings that they don't love or appreciate their mother or father, I urge you to try to look at the situation from a more objective viewpoint. Not for them but for you.
If you are on talking terms, you could ask about their upbringing, their traumas, and how they were treated by the grown-ups around them. For example, if they weren't shown love by their parents, they may not be comfortable showing love to you either. Or if one of their parents passed away when they were young, they may have a subconscious fear of getting too close to anyone.
Like many, I don't ever remember hearing "I love you" from either of my parents nor do I ever recall receiving a hug after age five. Upon reviewing belongings after their funerals, I learned that neither my father nor mother received those desired displays of emotion from their parents either. That was an eye-opening look into generational patterning.
It was also an experiential education that caused me to consciously decide to treat my two children very differently. Yes, I made a choice that the generational patterning stopped with me. I wanted my kids to know I loved them and I never held back any emotional attention or "I love you's".
With both Mother's Day and Father's Day coming around again, it's important to remember that it's not an enjoyable holiday for everyone nor does everyone have fond memories of their parents. Unfortunately, there is no rule book for parenting although I'm confident most would certainly advocate for the perfect how-to manual.
Looking back, I'm positive that I would have had a much better relationship with my adoptive parents had I paid enough attention to what they were going through instead of being a selfish youth. I realize that those years are considered our "selfish years" so I am thankful that we mature past that stage.
I surveyed a few various online groups and these are some of the comments:
(1) Daniel T. from Pennsylvania said, "Throwing these assumed good wishes around so flippantly may trigger someone. Not everyone has healed their inner wounds or been able to move past their traumatic childhood memories."
(2) Taylor W. from Tennesse said, "Not everyone has found a way to forgive their parents for perceived wrongdoings, either. Plus, if someone has never been a mom, is struggling to become a mom, feels they never had a mom, or whose mother just died, this day can evoke a profound sense of sadness."
(3) Amy D. from Wyoming said, "Although I understand the sentiment, I used to hate it when random people and even close friends wished me a Happy Mother's Day. Simply put, I'm not their mother. I still don't like it so, instead, I simply tolerate it."
(4) Debbie A. from Minnesota said, "There are millions who have lost their parents recently or around this holiday in previous years. There are millions who are struggling with infertility or have recently lost a child, and there are millions of children who have been removed from the home by CPS and put into foster care... these all make parents feel a great emptiness and loss."
(5) Ruben S. from New Mexico said, "We should only say "Happy Mother's Day" or "Happy Father's Day" to our parental figures and not the rest of society. When did society become our parents, anyway?"
(6) Barbara J. from New York said: "When we cast out these assumed good wishes to mobs of people other than just our parents, it diminishes the meaning or sentiment of the holiday's intent."
(7) Kelly R. from Oregon said, "I think the next time you want to send a text, say it to a customer in your store or drive-thru or tag someone on a social media post on these two holidays, they need to rethink it because it could make someone's day worse, not better."
(8) Rhonda Y. from Maryland said, "Personally, I'm over it all, these holidays should be deleted from the annual calendar along with many others. I hate the "cancel culture" but, with the way society is going, they may aim for it next."
What do you think?
Finally, if you are not on talking terms with your parents or you wish to heal from a parental relationship, my podcast from a few years ago may help. The information is still relevant today...
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. This content should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.