Defining Empowerment

lonely mother tulips

Making small talk with the older woman admiring the carousel of beautiful flowers, she mumbled to me, “It doesn’t matter anyway; I won’t be receiving any of these for Mother’s Day.”

Curiously I asked, “Your family is not close?”

“Oh, my children are all over the place,” she gestured with her hand pointing off into space.

Slowly pushing her shopping cart off to a different isle, I walked back over to the prettiest tulips and with a smile selected the perfect bouquet.

As I paid for the delicate flowers, I requested the clerk to please give them to the gray-haired woman with the white sweater when she checked out.

I left the store that afternoon filling a void in my heart as well.

It has been over 5 years since my estranged adoptive mother passed away. Quite honestly, I am feeling a little uneasy about Mother’s Day again this year. Although we had our differences for many years, there is still a part of the child in me that grieves for the many losses.

Even as a very young girl, I remember mom saying that the greeting cards I’d pick out special for her were nice. But there was never a time she didn’t follow it with a snide comment stating that it wasn’t honestly how I felt about her.

Upon learning my adoptive mother had died, I realized that I still had conflicting tears left from our long-ago failed mother-daughter relationship. The brutal truth was, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get her to love me. She always kept me at arm’s length. I was not her flesh-and-blood; she was guarded as if we were strangers.

Unfortunately, I can see now that my adoptive mother was broken; she didn’t even know how to love herself.

I have three wonderful daughters that make me feel loved and blessed on Mother’s Day. However, there are times I want to cry out, “How could anyone possibly understand how it feels to have lost out on the love of two mothers, a natural mother and my adoptive mother?”

It’s not really on a whim that I have always given freely of myself. Kudos of “that was really nice of you” from others has never been what’s important either.

Feeling bitterness from the losses has not been an option for me, but rather the “hard parts” have strengthened my belief that being a caring and sensitive human being with a genuine love for one another is what is most important in our life-time.

The way we heal from our hurts and disappointments can be empowering. It may be as simple as a gift from the heart—beautiful flowers for a lonely mother on Mother’s Day.

I entered the 2013 NerdWallet’s Mother’s Day Your Way Contest and won for the “Best Purchase.”

Author: JoAnne

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  1. So beautiful, JoAnne. This is a brilliant insight: “I can see now that my adoptive mother was broken; she didn’t even know how to love herself.”

    Happy Mothers Day weekend to you. I’m in awe that you became the mother you wished you’d had, in spite of all the loss you experienced.

  2. Thanks. After my mom and dad died int the early 70s. I have not belonged anywhere. It hurts sometimes but I have learned to just deal with it. In my next life I shall have a great family with love every where.

    Happy mothers day to all. 🙂

  3. Thinking about you with a hug and lots of love my friend! It’s time to surprise you again. ♥

  4. And to speak my truth out loud my friend, Lori feels cathartic. I often wonder besides looking just like my late mother who gave birth to me, what personality traits we share. It can’t come from nowhere :). ♥

  5. This must be a challenging day for many. For me it is Father’s day as my dad has been gone for 25 years. Moving forward is so important and reflecting on the good memories can help. Hope you have a wonderful Mother’s day. Thank you for sharing your post.

  6. (((JoAnne))) … I love this; it’s a quintessential example of adoptee resilience.


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