Celebrating Mothers Day without a Mother


Rays of Hope ~ Motherless on Mothers day

“Though our childhood abuse left us feeling someone ought to make reparation to us, if we wait a lifetime for that, we may never receive what we need. We choose instead to face the idea that from now on, we are going to take responsibility for caring for ourselves.” Beyond Survival by Maureen Brady

Today on Mother’s day, I acknowledge myself ~ that I in the last 4-5 years I have been the mother to myself that I have needed.

When I finally drew the line with my mother, she walked away from me. Although I know that my mother had a very difficult childhood, and a tough life herself, I couldn’t let her take it out on me anymore. She had the same chance that I did to get help. She chose not to have a relationship with me because I told her that I would not carry the burden of the relationship anymore. I would not let talk to me in an abusive way or blame me for the abuse that I suffered at the hands of her boyfriend.  Though I wish only the best for my Mom ~ on this Mother’s day, I celebrate that I no longer allow other people to devalue me or define me, and that I am an example of victory over a difficult past.

Even as an adult with children of my own, I could relate to feeling like I wanted to be justified. I wanted to be validated and told that the abuse was not in my imagination. I wanted someone to apologize to me. I wanted someone to tell me that I had not deserved to be regarded with such little value. I wanted to be assured that I was loveable, that I had not done anything wrong, that it was not my fault and that I wasn’t crazy or selfish for feeling like no one cared about me.

I was told I was a story teller, the little girl that cried wolf, I was taught to doubt my memories and was not always sure what things had happened to me and what were things that I might have dreamed up. Things were murky for me and I had learned to disconnect from my body where it was even harder to remember the real from the imagined.

But in adulthood, after years of living in a world of dissociation, depression and struggle, and within the safety of therapy I began to look at my upbringing from a different angle. I began to see what really happened and where they were wrong and I began to rebuild myself.

I still longed to be recognized and validated, especially by my parents. I thought that if my Mother would just come to me and say that she realized the harm she had done to me by not believing me and not protecting me, and if she admitted that she put me in very dangerous positions, and if she told me how sorry that she was, EVEN if she had to say “but I was so sick”… I thought that it would change everything, and that my life would just be all better.

Several things happened. First of all I learned to validate myself. I learned to believe in me and my own my truth and to know that I did not imagine what happened to me. I began to repair the false beliefs; I took them apart and I looked at them as though I was seeing through a new lens.  I started to see the core person; the real me and acknowledge who I really was inside and started to like myself.

When I look at this process today, I realize that if my mother had made a grand effort to make it up to me and apologized for her part in the messed up upbringing that I had and for all the lies about myself that I had believed all those years and if my father had realized that he neglected me; that he had never been interested in me as a person and if he came to me with a sincere understanding of how that affected me, I know today that not much would have changed. The old beliefs I learned as a child would still be alive at the depth of my core. The false belief system that I developed which lay at the root of all my difficulties would have still been intact. I would have been happy for about a month or so, and then the old depression would have come creeping back; the voices whispering that I am an imposter, would have still been there, the identity issues and the insecurities would not have healed. All of this helps me to understand that the re-wiring I did with the help of my therapist really had to take place for me to become ME!

Happy Mother’s Day ~ to all our Mom readers and to those of us who parent ourselves! (That includes you Men too!)

Darlene Ouimet

Next years mother’s day post has been published~ “Mother’s Day and Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationships”

26 response to "Celebrating Mothers Day without a Mother"

  1. By: Lee Posted: 8th May

    Hello ladies,

    I wish you a very special day today. I don’t like the saying “happy” something… it reminds me of being told how to feel. I wish for a day of remembering how special I am and how much love I have given inspite of my past. I don’t feel sadness today about the relationship I have lost with my mother, I think of that the rest of the year long. Today I smile to myself and think of the wonderful mother I have become. I love my special people and without a doubt do the best I can do. I am proud of my hard work over the years, learning to forgive myself has been my biggest challenge.

    I wish for you all a day with constant reminders of the successes you have had and reminders of how far you have come.

    Love and blessings to you on this very special Mothers Day.

    xoxoxo Lee

  2. By: Susan Posted: 16th June

    I am sorry that your mother remained aloof from your reality. In a weird and twisted way, your being able to recognize that can make you so much more empathetic than someone who has not had that experience. You know how it feels to be ignored and mistreated. You are breaking the chains of generations…a certain reason for rejoicing! Is it fast? Naw. Is it easy? Naw. Is it worth it. You betcha!

    I have not been majorly depressed in many years but I know how hard it is and what sucking quicksand it can be. You are in my prayers and thoughts.

    To clarify my writing above: My brother was six years older than me so my first memory of his hands in my diaper I was about 2 or 3 and he was eight.

  3. By: Susan Posted: 13th June

    You wrote “I was told I was a story teller, the little girl that cried wolf, I was taught to doubt my memories and was not always sure what things had happened to me and what were things that I might have dreamed up.” When I first told my Mom what was going on I only told a little part. They asked my 6 years brother, who lied and so both my parents told me that it was nothing but my imagination, his pants only fell by accident, nothing more. HA, the beginning of the end for me. I DO KNOW that certain behaviors and feelings of worthlessness stemmed from this, their disbelief. This rejection of my cry for help proved to me that I was unimportant and set off a spiral of drug and alcohol abuse. It was the nail in the coffin of my self esteem. In my late 20’s I revisited the conversation and they still did not believe me. I told them all the details then, I told them everything he did. Years later my brother was browbeating my about something and I was in tears. My Dad told him that I deserved none of it, that I had forgiven much from him and for him to deny the things he did and treat me so shabbily was just wrong. He made him stop. While my brother and I remain estranged in whole because it is my brothers choice, my parents and I are close. Then Dad apologized to me for not protecting me over the years. They finally believed me and stood up for me and it really meant a lot. No it did not bring me healing, years of hard work and faith in God did that, but it did help the child in me feel loved and and that broke one of the threads that held me to a dysfunctional past.

    While I can see that apology as the the one thing that heals ones wounds is a pie in the sky, for me it touched my soul, it touched the spirit in me that nearly died that day they said they did not believe me. It restored something in me that had not found it’s way out of the mire yet. I know that many of us are never given this special gift. I want to thank my parents for finally believing me and standing up for me.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th June

      Thank you for telling your story. I know it would make a huge difference to be believed, protected and apologized to, and you are right, this is a rare and special gift. When I was an adult in my early 40’s my mother asked me what had actually happened with one of the abuse situations that she had never listened to me about. She made this sarcastic comment about how it wasn’t rape, as though if it were rape she would have had a reason to protect me… it was like being abused again. I can see how amazing and restoring it would be to have one of my parents stand up for me even after all these years. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. It inspires hope.
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Adelaide Posted: 7th June


    it is true that we must find our own value.

    I do believe that a woman’s emotional journey is uphill. Our entire lives, there are major deterrents to our finding peace and acceptance with our decisions, seriously impacting our ability to ultimately be at peace with ourselves. The mother daughter relationship is the most primal of our support system and the loss of it is overwhelming, perhaps more so for some of us, I will admit. Yes,

    The devaluing of by either mother or daughter proves how significant and primal that relationship is. The finding ones’s self at the expense of the other is one of those major deterrents to finding inner peace. That is the journey that so many young women chose in their quest to “find” themselves. That is the ultimate disservice to themselves, to their mothers.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th June

      Hi Adelaide
      Darlene here, I wrote this post. There is sometimes confusion with a new reader because there are two of us writing on this blog. Carla and her Mom are working thier relationship out, while my mother is not interested in working on the relationship with me, so here in the “mother daughter catagory” we have very different posts. Carla and I have very different stories, and yet we both found that we had so much in common in the way that we felt inside. We found that the common ground was based in the way that we had been taught how to beleive who we were when we were growing up. I hope this helps clarify for you. =)

      Thanks so much for your comments. I am glad that you posted your expierence too.
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Adelaide Posted: 25th May

    IT is true that we must find ourselves, but you cannot do it in a vacuum and you most certainly cannot do it without looking at your roots, from where you come, and sharing in that. Communication is so difficult yet it is so simple. So many people are put through agony when you deny them – all to find out that you should not, you should embrace them. It really it like in the Wizard of Oz: it was always in your own backyard.

  6. By: Adelaide Posted: 25th May

    To all of you:

    There is a movie whose narrative is that of everyone here. Millions of women share it: the search for support in the Mother Daughter relationship. Please see it:

    Mother and Child

    It is about being there to share in each other’s lives.

    • By: Carla Dippel Posted: 25th May

      Hi Adelaide~ welcome here! Thank you for sharing your story and your encouragement. I am sorry for your pain and your losses… Darlene is away on vacation and may not be able to reply to your comments until she gets back. But from my story, my Mom desired to be my support system too (unlike your daughter, I took advantage of her support, but to an extreme- I didn’t believe that I could make it on my own). Now that we have each sought healing and wholeness for ourselves as individuals, our relationship is healing too. But first we each needed to find our own value, separately. I cheer you on in your journey to know your own value and be supported by others who know it too. Thank you for being here and being a part of the conversation. ~Carla

  7. By: Adelaide Posted: 25th May


    IT is true that so many of us do not get the validation that we need from our mothers, after all, they are the beginning of how we will be our support system or if we will. My mother has very few years left and has never been able to validate or tell me that anything of my major accomplishments were of value. Today, I have a different perspective. I have a 21 year old daughter that so devalues me.

    Since communication is key to me, I offer both them support and am willingly to discuss and work-out anything that they need to discuss. Both refuse. Both have caused me to allow myself to be dragged through mud! You cannot imagine the grief I have suffered for over two decades and the illnesses that resulted: vertigo and the like. From my daughter, I hear, “I can live without a mom.” When I tell her that I love her and that mothers and daughters need to support each other, she quips, “you just don’t get it.”

    People search their entire lives for people who are wiling to take time with them, validate their concerns. How could it be that these two women in my life will not? Trying to devalue or negate my being, my contributions on their lives and in this world is a comment on them, not me.

    My mother likely never will do so. (My baby sister is her favorite.) As I say, sadly, she has only a few years left, but I have made peace with that. Only time will tell what my daughter will do about accepting me as part of her support system, that who I am partly defines her own parameters. My problem is dealing with knowing that her search to recognize the value in me will wasted years during which she and I could have helped each other on this journey, and she and I both have tenuous health. I may not be here if and when she discovers what it could mean for her, even the joy that she would give herself by allowing me to be part of her support system. In either case, what matters is this:

    You must find people in this world who do value you, value your contributions to this world and to their lives. That concept is what should form the basis of your support system and such people are who you should allow to form it.

  8. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 24th May

    Lisa, welcome here! Darlene has just left for vacation and may or may not be able to respond to comments while she’s away. Thank you for sharing your story~ I believe a lot people can relate to how you feel. I know I can, telling myself not to be “hard” on my Mom and to just focus on the good things. But the truth for me is that in doing that, I am shutting parts of myself down, the parts that want to be real and want to say what is true, like you have expressed (in fact, the parts that really want real relationship and not something phoney or obligatory). Don’t be hard on yourself~ it is not easy! It is risky. Darlene and I have totally different experiences with our mothers. In my situaion, giving myself the freedom to be honest about the things that are not “appreciable” has opened up room for growth in my relationship with my mom (because she was willing to listen and learn). At the same time, appreciating the good things just naturally happened as well- I didn’t have to force myself to do it- because there was freedom to be real about everything. My mom and I are actually going to write a series together this week about our relationship!… I hope there will be some nuggets of truth in our story to help you in your’s… Thank you so much for visiting us Lisa and I hope to hear from you again. ~Carla

  9. By: Lisa Posted: 24th May

    I have been struggling with Mothers Day for years. The hypocrisy of it. The fact that there is not a single “humorous” Mothers Day card in existence (which would make it easier for me–instead of cards that are all about how wonderful she was and how much she taught me). Have you ever noticed that almost all Fathers Day cards are humorous, but no Mothers Day cards? What’s that about? But I digress…

    I am a blocked writer who has been wanting to write an essay or a personal reflection about Mothers Day for a long time. Much of what you said resonates for me. I have not drawn any lines for my mother. I feel it would be unfair…like changing the rules in the middle of the game. So I go on feeling less than whole in her presence and I blame myself for my inability to stand up and be real. And I am told by so many to just appreciate her for who and what she is (and I do, most of the time), because she won’t be around forever and won’t I be sorry when she’s gone? The trick is to appreciate her without invalidating myself. I have not learned to do that. I have very little hope that I ever will. Instead I take my anger out on other things…most particularly myself.

    Anyway, I thank you for your wisdom.

  10. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th May

    Hi Cyndi,
    I did have a great Mother’s day! Thanks for your comments, this is pretty much exactly what I am talking about and exactly how I feel too. I like how you use the word “liberating”, it is so “right”. It is so freeing to accept that other people are not going to change because of something WE do or don’t do, and to realize that we can do this for ourselves. I think I had to start doing it for myself before I realized that I could do all of it for myself, and more ~ as you say.
    Thanks for writing. I loved your Mother’s day post on your blog too!
    Hugs, Darlene

  11. By: Cyndi Posted: 11th May

    Great post. I too spent a long time wishing my mother would admit to the abuse instead of re-writing history and even occasionally blatantly calling me a liar. I think it was the last bit of hope that we could have a “normal” relationship if she would just own up to it. I didn’t even need an apology, just validation. When it finally hit home that I wasn’t going to get it from her, it was liberating. I could provide all that for myself, and more. I’m still working on being my own good mother and sometimes struggle to find compassion for myself as a child. I see my insecurities as weaknesses and have to consciously re-frame all that negative self-talk all the time. Still, letting go of the dream that she would miraculously someday turn into what I wanted if I just did enough or was good enough or was even angry enough, was one of the most helpful things I learned. Hope you had a great Mother’s Day!

  12. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th May

    Yes Nikki,
    the key is to validate yourself, and we can’t just decide to do it. (I tried and it didn’t work for me anyhow.) The only way that I was finally able to do that was to see the truth, the way that it really was, and pick out the lies I believed: that I was not equally valuable to anyone else, or even to most everyone else; that I was not good enough, that I didn’t deserve to be protected, that the abuse was my fault and that ultimately my depression etc. was my fault too. (not enough acceptance, not enough faith, OH everyone has the answer! So why didn’t I have the answer?)
    Once I had them picked out, then I could correct them, and pretty soon after that I was really realizing that none of it was my fault. Once that happened, I was able to get enough garbage out of the way to really see the real me and start to bring her out! It takes a while, but learning to validate myself was the most amazing adventure/process ever!
    Love Darlene

    Hi Mary,
    Thank you for sharing the story of your difficult childhood. My goodness, you did go through a lot. I was told by many people to be grateful for the mother I had too, but the thing is that is where I got stuck, not being allowed to be angry or to feel ripped off. I have also been reminded that I should count my blessings because my mother will not be around forever, but the thing is that I am way more blessed now that I have drawn the boundary. That was one of the truths that set me free. A tough one, yes… but a truth none the less. I wish my mother wanted to have a relationship with me, but she doesn’t because I will do it her way. There is nothing that I can do about that if I want to live in the joy and freedom that I enjoy today. I won’t trade my sanity for insanity anymore.

    Thanks for your comments, I value your input here.
    Love Darlene

  13. By: mary johnson Posted: 10th May

    Mothers day and fathers day has no meaning for me. People that have a oppurnity to have a relationship with either parent and don’t take advantage of it is up setting. I started out on the streets in 2nd grade. It was safer to be on streets then at home. I left the street when I was 16 in portland eating out of garbage can. As a child I took food from people gardens and orchards. I dream was always to have loving caring parents. I knew had a little of having parents because I was adopted. Then at the age of 25 I found my biological mom. I grew up in a single parent home with foster parents now and then when I was in junior high school. Finding my birth.mother turned out to be a disappointment. She will not take care of her self in the high gene department. She has to rely on somebody to do everything for her. So the people that have a family should count their blessing and take advantage of them because they won’t be around for ever.

  14. By: Nikki Posted: 10th May

    I know exactly what you are talking about “if only so and so would apologize then I (fill in the blank)” I keep going over in my head only if this person or that person maybe I would feel justified, but then I have to ask myself what do I need to feel justified about and why do I need someone else to make me feel justified in feeling the way I do. It wasn’t until the end of last year that I realized how co-dependent I allowed myself to become. I say “Allowed myself” simply because for the most part I have been a very independent person even as a child. But I look over the last decade of my life and realize how really co-dependent I have been.
    I don’t need anyone to validate who I am more than I need to validate myself. What happen to me isn’t my imagination gone wild, the truth is the truth no matter if anyone believes it or not. A few months ago my sister and I were talking and as we were talking about our childhood one of the things she and I both agreed on it was as though we had been brain washed.

    My mom has had low self-esteem most all of her life. I mean she is a good mother and she kept our home clean and our clothes clean and didn’t mind when we would occasionally mess up the house (my mom loved cleanliness but she wasn’t obsessed with it) What caused a division in my relationship with my mom and I started when I was around six years old. At the time my dad was in the Navy and he was gone a lot so while he was out at sea we lived state side near my mom’s family. I was my mom’s right arm while dad was gone. I got to stay up later than my sister and brother. I got to watch tv shows with her and we enjoyed many things together but when my dad came back home I was made to be the kid again. I had to go to bed with the others, and it was as though my mom just pushed me aside or use me. This did cause conflict in my heart and a huge gulf began to grow between my mom and I.

    My sister and I both have agreed that back in those days if our house had of caught fire and my mom had to save one of us it would be our dad. Not to long ago I shared this with my mom (not out of meanness she was asking some personal questions over a situation to do with my sister) My mom’s response was “I don’t know why the both of you would feel that way because I love all three of you very much!” of course I could tell this hurt her but like I said I didn’t tell her about it to mortally wound her .. it has taken all that I have in me to really speak up and I have even told her as much. Often my mom ask “Was I really that bad of a mom?” She ask this anytime parts of our childhood is talked about. I also told her a few weeks ago that her and dad both raised us to be our own person to stand up for ourselves so this is part of being who I am and being able to voice that is part of standing up for myself. I honestly understand my mom though many others would consider her attitude one of being selfish because she does come out being very concerned about her own self image but what I realize is my mom isn’t secure with herself.

    I want my relationship with my mom to be an open one to where we can talk openly about everything but in reality my mom has to take certain parts of reality in small doses though I will say this much she has now stopped blaming me for how my dad treated me.

    But what I have to do is quit trying to get other people to validate that part of me I am the only one who can validate myself when it concerns my life and what has happened in my life. Yes it is important to have others validate us from time to time, but like you said we don’t heal from that alone..

    Thank you for sharing!

  15. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th May


    Yes, it is what it is. One of the things I realized was that is where I got stuck. I tried for 20 years to just accept that “it is what it is” and I could not figure out where to go from there. “Acceptance is the answer” was my mantra all that time. So as you state here ~ “it doesn’t really matter whose fault it is, but how it ends up affecting us in the end is our own responsibility” I had to view that in a different order. first of all it affected me way before I became an adult ~ way before it was my responsibility. That is where so many of us do get stuck ~ on the bridge between when we are powerless children, and responsible adults. I had to take the whole thing apart and first off ~ I did place the blame on the people who taught me to accept less value then I deserved, and other lies about myself. Then I realized that it was up to me to do something about it, and the only thing we can do is change the lies we have come to accept/believe. Then when those lies are replaced, I no longer needed to blame anyone for who I am, because I am no longer who THEY made me… (now there is some complicated writing.. LOL)

    Thank you so much for your thought provoking statement Stacy. We are so blessed to have people like you posting!
    Hugs, Darlene

  16. By: stacy Posted: 10th May

    Yes, it’s a bummer that so many of us don’t get the validation we so much need from our Mothers. But, it is what it is. And there comes a time in life when we have to accept it and decide what we can do for ourselves. One of those sucky things about live is that it doesn’t really matter whose fault it is, how it ends up affecting us is our ultimatly our own responsiblity.

  17. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 9th May

    To Sherry, Mel, Colleen and Patricia;

    Thanks to all of you for sharing with me. This post was easy to write but for some reason I had trouble deciding if I should publish it or not. I am glad that I decided to.
    It’s funny that when I wrote the original post, the title was “I’m sorry but…” and so many of us share the story of parents who do apologize and then say but.. but.. but and most of them come up with all sorts of excuses about why it is really still our fault anyway! What the heck kind of an apology is that??? (If there is a but, there is no apology!)

    The truth set me free, and the truth is not what I thought it would be! I thought that I couldn’t not accept that I was the problem, and I just kept trying harder, when the truth in fact was, that I WASN’T the problem.

    I am so thankful for the comments and deep sharing that we receive here on this blog, it is this depth and honesty that keeps me writing. I thank each one of you.
    I had the most wonderful Mothers day with my husband and kids and the people that we consider to be our extended family now.

    Love Darlene

  18. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 9th May

    I remember a lot of past Mother’s Days that I cried. I usually told myself it was because I wasn’t a good enough mother to my own children or that they didn’t appreciate me enough. How could they appreciate me when the real problem was that I didn’t appreciate myself. I couldn’t have been a better mother because I didn’t know how to mother. It was never done for me. I now know that the real tears were grieving for the mother that I always wanted and never had in my childhood.

    I always hating buying cards for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because they never described either of my parents. I know as parents that we often think we did the best we could. Sometimes that best that they did was just not good enough.

    Darlene, like you, I had to learn to parent myself instead of waiting for my parents to one day wake up and do it.

  19. By: Colleen Posted: 9th May

    I could write a similar thing on Father’s Day. Actually, I did receive the apology. My father wrote me a letter and apologized for abusing me. Then he started making excuses. Every time I told him that just once, I wanted him to put me and my feelings first, he would say – I always put your feelings first. Which of course is a lie.
    I am in my 50’s and now, finally, I am learning to live my life without my father. I have finally stopped waiting for the big moment when he admits everything, tells the whole truth, makes no excuses. When I finally forced him to tell my stepmother, they both turned on me and started blaming me for everything that was wrong in their lives and my life and our relationship. That is when I knew. I was done.

  20. By: Mel Posted: 9th May

    Happy Mothers Day Darlene!
    A few hours after i posted a fb message something wasnt sitting right. I logged back in at stared at my fb status and it became so clear what my belief system was about mothering. Wishing the Moms i knew a happy Mothers day, I noted Motherhood was the most important ‘job’ in the world. It wasn’t a gift nor did it bring joy to my own mother, it was a job, you know the job everyone hates and complains about.
    It’s really empowering to recognize these belief systems and patterns of disfunction.

    Many Blessings to you Darlene! I am learning so much from your site~ Thank you!

  21. By: Sherry Posted: 9th May

    Darlene, Thank you so much for that post. In just a few days, my mother will have been dead for five years. When she was dying from lung cancer, I avoided sitting down with her for the goodbye conversation that each of my siblings had. I knew that I would not get the apology that I feel I deserve. I have no regrets about skipping that conversation.

    Your post helps me see that I do not need that acknowledgement from my dead parents, I can do that for myself. Thank you for giving me that freedom!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.