Love the kid you have

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day in the U.S. The advertising is ramping up and there’s really no escaping it – it’s a big money maker for florists and restaurants and I’d guess jewelry stores as well.

All that keeps going through my head at this time of year is, What’s it like to have a mother? And what’s it like to like her enough that you want to celebrate her?

I had an egg donor in whose home I was raised, but she sure as hell wasn’t a mother.

I was lurking around on a forum I frequent not too long ago, when someone made a comment about how you can’t be a bad parent as long as you love the kid you have. And I realized that that was at the root of a lot of the issues I had with my egg donor – she didn’t love the daughter she had. She had a lot of ideas about what I needed to be, what I owed her, how I was supposed to act, what I was supposed to like…it’s exhausting to remember how much stress I was under as a child, trying to be something that I didn’t completely understand. All I knew is that my mother didn’t really like the actual me. She wanted a different version.

My mother’s “love” – put in quotations because I don’t believe for one second that there’s an ounce of love in that woman’s body – was conditional, and the conditions often changed. Something that was supremely important would become suddenly unimportant the moment I achieved it, and we were onto the next hurdle I needed to overcome to earn my mother’s silence. Because that was the best I ever got – nothing. I never received praise, I was never told that she loved me, I was never encouraged. I was made fun of, yelled at, belittled, bullied, and told things like “if you don’t get straight A’s, don’t even bother coming home, I don’t want you.” What a lovely thing to say to your 9 year old. I started having panic attacks in 4th grade.

I can’t love the mother I had because she was never able to love the daughter she had.

What I can love is the fact that I’m free of her. That I succeeded in doing the things I wanted to do in life despite her. That I’m an independent, functional adult, despite how hard she tried to prevent that from happening.

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