A Space in Your Head by Cher Finver

I have mixed emotions about Mother’s Day. My daughter and husband do their best to shower me with the extra love and attention moms receive on the day designated just for us. On the other hand, social media is there to remind me of the one relationship I do my best not to reflect much on that day—the relationship with my mother. Get off social media, you say? Let’s be realistic.

My biological mother and I have not spoken in at least eight years. And before that, we would go six months to a year without speaking at times. Bio mom is what I refer to her as, even though I am not adopted. Can you imagine not talking to your child for that long? Neither can I.

I wrote a memoir in 2017, But You Look So Good and Other Lies. In my book I go into detail about my parental kidnapping and how my bio mother’s decision to do so impacted the trajectory of my life and self-esteem. If your mother chose to fill your childhood with lies, instability, drugs, alcohol, and choosing men over her children, you might not speak to her either.

I hear that my bio mom glanced through an early draft of my book provided to her by a “family” member. Any writer will tell you that editing and re-editing can change a project tremendously and that the earliest drafts need a lot of work.  If my bio mother had read every page of my actual memoir, she would see that I gave her credit where credit was due. And that as a mother myself, I know being a mom can be a hard, thankless job.

Here’s the thing, though. Unlike my mother, my daughter has and will always come first. I believe this is why my nineteen-year-old and I have a good relationship. It takes work. Any connection worth protecting takes forgiveness, understanding, and unconditional love.  I also apologize to my daughter when I am in the wrong, and we talk about any issues that we have. My bio mom sweeps every single uncomfortable topic under the rug.

I have been in therapy for years. And yes, my bio mother still comes up in conversation, just not as frequently. I know now that none of her actions or issues are my fault. I have also learned so much about generational trauma, gaslighting, and how growing up in a toxic home can affect you and every relationship you will ever have – including the one you have with yourself.

I am fortunate enough to have a few women in my life who fill the role of mother for me. None more so than my former co-worker and dear friend of over twenty-five years, Sue. She supports me and loves me unconditionally. Sue and her husband are my daughter’s godparents, which should tell you how much importance and trust I put in them. Sue and I call each other every few weeks to check in, often gabbing for over an hour. She knows my heart and soul.  My bio mom does not see the woman I have become or the hard work it took for me to get where I am today.

Still, to have your own mother not wanting anything to do with you and never owning up to the mistakes that have affected your life to its core can be challenging to process and compartmentalize. No matter the amount spent on or the years spent in therapy. On Mother’s Day, I do try to focus on Sue. She is the one who deserves a call and card from me every year. The message I have on this special day for the woman who birthed me? A thank you for doing so and the acknowledgment that she taught me to be a better mother. I try not to follow in her parenting footsteps and repeating dysfunctional patterns.

Every Father’s Day, my dad gets a card, call, and social media shout-outs. The unraveling of my mother’s lies led to our reconciliation. My dad and I continue to rebuild the relationship that she tried to destroy. Remember to try to focus on those you have in your life who love and support you unconditionally. These are the people who truly deserve a space in your head and heart.

If you have enjoyed this article, you might be interested in reading The Drama of Writing Trauma: Authoring Memoir by Sophia Kouidou-Giles

About the contributor

Cher Finver is the author of several essays and the 2017 memoir, But You Look So Good and Other Lies. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband, daughter, and three dogs

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