My Mother Stories by Regitze Ladekarl
I am a storyteller. I believe we all are storytellers. We tell stories about ourselves to teach others how they should see us, to figure out how to see ourselves.
Since my mother died in January of 2018, I have been telling stories about her and our relationship. They went something like: “It was complicated. I was more of a mother to her than she was to me, and she never said ‘thank you’ or ‘goodbye.’” Those stories were true (they still are), and I needed to tell them. In the beginning, that was the whole point.
While my mother was alive I never once let myself take a look at what was going on between us. I was sure that if I did, I would fall apart. I took our situation as a fact there was no point in dwelling on, and I moved through it. It was the same when she was sick and dying. Even in the first months after she passed, I thought I could just go on as if my mother was a door I had closed.
Then last summer it hit me hard. Like a skyscraper fell on me. I was completely paralyzed by grief. I told my mother-stories to make people understand why I was in a puddle on the floor. It was hard to admit that pain and sadness got to me. I have always been the master-coper, and to me, it seemed like I was weak for letting it overwhelm me. But it also felt good to say it out loud and to let myself be human.
As I am moving through the stages of grief, I learn new things. Lately, it has been acceptance. Yes, my mother and I did have a complicated relationship, but I get to decide if and how that defines me.
Yes, I was more of a mother to her than she to me, but that is a strength on my part, even if it was exhausting. No, she did not say “thank you” or “goodbye,” and that sucks — it really does — but she could not, and I have forgiven her for that.
So, on Mother’s Day this year I will tell some other stories that are equally true: “My mother gave me life” “My mother gave me strength;” “My mother loved me as much as she could, and that is all anyone can do.”
Post-script from the Campowerment Crew: To Ricki and to all who tell mother-stories less flowery than fairy tells: we honor your truth; we encourage your continued gratitude for what was beautiful in some of the not-so-pretty parts; and, perhaps most of all, we celebrate the evolution you contribute to your lineage.