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When Mother’s Day Is No Cakewalk

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When Mother’s Day Is No Cakewalk

Motherís Day just passed, which was a day to celebrate, right? We take Mommies out to brunch and give them flowers. Kids hand-craft macaroni necklaces to adorn Mommy in her Sunday dress. We kiss, hug, send cards, and jam up the phone lines as we remember our own mothers. In a perfect world, Motherís Day would be a day we could all celebrate.

But, as some of you may know, we donít live in a perfect world. For some, Motherís Day is a day people want to dig a hole and crawl in. Itís a day they wish they could fast forward through. Itís a day that makes them cringe as they watch all the happy people bustle about wearing white orchids and smiling with happy children carrying balloons.

I’m Blessed
Iím not one of those people. Iím blessed to have a fairy tale mother, the kind you read about in books, the sort of mother who hand-sewed my clothes and made my favorite meal on my birthday and went all out for Easter and Christmas and everything in between. Stacks of baby books prove how much she adored me as a child, and even now, we speak nearly every day and I continue to seek guidance from her. Even imagining losing her one day makes me tear up.

…But Many Aren’t
Most people didnít grow up with fairytale mothers. Many were more like the wicked step-mothers. As one of my friends said, ďThe world is full of assholes, and unfortunately, some of them reproduce.Ē

Averyís mother gave her up when she was born. She lived in and out of foster care for years before she was finally adopted — and then her adopted mother died of breast cancer when she was only 11. When she turned 18, fueled by the fantasy that her birth mother would take over for the loving mother she only had seven years with, she sought her out. But when she finally found her, after a pilgrimage that took her across the country, she stood at her motherís door. And her mother stood on the other side of the closed door and said, ďI donít love you. I never did. Thatís why I gave you up.Ē And refused to open the door.


Selenaís mother drank. And drank. And drank. Until she beat Selena senseless. Over. And over. And over. And then, one fateful day, after a bender that led her to beat the sh*t out of her 9-year-old daughter, Selena walked out — and never came back.

Miaís mother died in childbirth, and she grew up with a distant alcoholic father who blamed her for the death of his childhood sweetheart. And then he married her step-mother, who suffered from bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. From the day she moved in, Mia walked on eggshells, trying not to incite her explosive temper, but she couldnít win. No matter how careful Mia was, Miaís step-mother cut her down with vicious verbal abuse that rings in her ears even now, many years after she ran away from home and was emancipated from her parents.

Kimberlyís father beat her mother senseless throughout her young life. Her primary memories from childhood consist of broken glass and broken lips and broken bones — and huge cover-ups to make sure nobody knew what was really happening. Until one fateful day when Kimberlyís mother had had enough. And she picked up the gun she had been hiding for years — and shot the bastard who had been beating her for years. Kimberly spent the rest of her young life in foster care, and her mother refused to see her — not because she didnít love her, she said. Because she wanted Kimberly to have a better life and she didnít want to provide any reminders of the life she once had.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at† and also created two online communities -† and† She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


+ add your own
6:46AM PST on Dec 9, 2011


12:18PM PDT on May 15, 2011

Noted with interest.

9:32AM PDT on May 11, 2011

thank you for this powerful story but luckily these...mothers are not the majority.
Been a mother is never easy ,you do the best that you can with what you have and sometime the child turnout well and sometime not BUT never reproche yourself because no one is perfect.

It is better been wanted so natural mother or not if you have a good one cheerish her .....if not...forget her and get on with your life...YOU dont ow her anything!

6:36AM PDT on May 11, 2011

i love your articles!!

3:09AM PDT on May 11, 2011

I haven't cried that hard in awhile. Everyday I wish that my 'mother' could simply utter something even half as endearing as this. From such a tragic childhood & adulthood this letter written above was just another piece to the puzzle and another means to help me let go. Thank You!!!

9:14PM PDT on May 10, 2011

This article brought tears to my eyes and I never thought I could react this way to an article about mother-daughter relationships. I never really evaluated more deeply my own relationship with my mother before but I read this. I identified with one situation described here and even though my mother isn't a cruel person her very difficult marriage made it so that I witnessed and experienced many unpleasant moments before she divorced. In my relationship with her I've often felt that I'm the mother because I had to help her in very stressful situations. It was not easy to take on an adult responsibility at a young age. Although some scenarios described here are very painful to read I'm actually glad I managed to read about them because they showed the kind of mother that I would never want to be. Thank you for the beautiful letter at the end. It was very touching and motherly.

6:12PM PDT on May 10, 2011


4:02PM PDT on May 10, 2011

I give my girl something for Mothers day because without her it is just another day. My birth mother more or less demands homage because she gave birth what she did not give was love and understanding...its all about her

3:35PM PDT on May 10, 2011

My daughter died on Mother's Day two years ago after a month long vigil. Add to that the fact that my mother and grandmothers have been gone for years, and I kind of prefer to skip this holiday.
I light a candle in memory of them all and just spend a quiet day. Still, I am a great grandmother now and always remind my granddaughter that she is a wonderful mother on Mother's day!

11:47AM PDT on May 10, 2011

I'm convinced that my great-grandmother having children was a poor idea, and the two generations afterwards kept repeating bad things. My mother doesn't even see the manipulation, but she's repeating it, and it bloody hurts. Nothing I do is ever enough, and I'm not allowed to be ill (I can't get my mind around that one, but I had two serious conditions, which she both denied and never mentions now).
I remember that year when I bought her what she'd asked for, and she complained to my grandmother that I wasn't very original. Whatever I do, I'm a bad daughter.
She'd have been better off with a poodle.
As you can guess, I'm stopping the DNA failure here with me.

Thanks for the post and the opportunity to growl freely!

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people are talking

Very informative and helpful. Thank you for sharing.

Sounds like fraud to me. I don't drink any milk.

Some good tips in the article and in the many comments. I also store avocados in the frig once they…

gotta keep putting this information in folks' faces. thank you.

Had thought about trying it. Guess I'll stick with milk from a cow.


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