– Written by Morgan Coyner, Grant and Communications Coordinator
Months ago, I sat in The Next Door’s Chapel, holding a woman’s hands in mine as we bowed our heads before the Lord.
“How can I pray for you?” I had asked her moments before.
She didn’t answer right away. I have learned that silence doesn’t always mean there is no answer. Sometimes it means that the answer is so difficult to say that the heart and brain must prepare themselves to release it.
“I gave my baby up for adoption,” she told me, wiping away a tear. “Right before I came here.”
How do you respond to that? I’m sorry? Why? That’s awful. None of it felt right.
“That must have been hard,” I said.
“My baby’s going to have a better life than I could ever give him,” she said.
I think about her as we celebrate Mother’s Day today. Even though she made the best decision for her son, she must approach this day with trepidation each year. How painful it must be to see mothers with their children, celebrating their special bonds, while her son celebrates with someone else. I wonder if she thinks through her life, how her disease led her to a place where she could not take care of her son. Does she show herself grace and look at all the work she’s done to get healthy? Or does shame take over for the day?
This is the story of many mothers at The Next Door. If their child hasn’t been adopted by someone else, the child is in DCS custody or a foster home. For some women, it brings up shame and guilt that years of using caused damage to their relationships with their children and their own mothers. Those who have had miscarriages due to the toll drug use has had on their body feel the weight of their disease in a different way. Some women tell us that the first time they used was with their mother, that their mother’s abusive partners played a role in their addiction. The list of broken relationships goes on and on. Mother’s Day is a tough day at The Next Door as each woman works through her own emotions surrounding the word “mother” and what it means to them.
I myself am celebrating today differently this year. It’s my first Mother’s Day without my mother, who died of a fentanyl overdose in August. Addiction has taken too many mothers and daughters. If today is marked by an absence for you, I grieve with you. There is something distinctly “not fair” about addiction and the way it affects many lives through its ripple effect. I hope you will find a way to keep your loved one’s memory alive.
Today, Mother’s Day, we celebrate every imperfect mother there is. The one who thinks she failed her kids. The one who has multiple court dates to get through before custody will be regranted. The one who thinks her mom will never forgive her. The one who gave her child away to be raised by someone else. The one who is here so that her children can stay. The one who is here because she wants to be a better mother than her mom. The one who’s substance use led to miscarriage. The one who hopes to be a mom someday. The pregnant woman who is afraid of being newly sober with a baby. The mother who is repairing her relationship with her children or her own mother. The mother who is parenting someone else’s kids, as a foster mother or stepmother. The mother working multiple jobs to keep food on the table. To all the messy, beautiful, hard, and imperfect things motherhood encompasses.
To every woman, no matter where you are in your motherhood journey, we see you. Whether today brings you great joy or great grief, we celebrate you.
Published on May 13, 2020