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Polish Mother’s Day reflections: My mum does try her best, even if it doesn’t feel enough for us

Having a loving heart for her makes things easier. It brings acceptance of who she is and peace of mind for me to be myself without her in my life. I would still pay a visit for Mother's Day or call her on her birthday, but I will not feel responsible for making her happy anymore.

It’s Mother’s Day today in Poland.

Many people know that my relationship with my mum is complicated, somehow difficult, and has many ups and downs.

We are different, and to be honest, I don’t enjoy spending time with her. I do it because I love her.

Back in 2014, I took her for a little getaway to the seaside. It was a birthday present. I wanted to make her happy, and I believe she had a great time. However, there was no bond or banter between us. We are not friends.

Sometimes I wish I had a better relationship with my mum. One that makes you feel at home, where you can be yourself without any judgement or agenda. I think this is something I could never get over. And I have tried in many ways.

A few months ago, I thought I would never speak to her again. She let me down, and I figured it was time to move on and stop feeding this toxicity that leaves us upset with each other. She has her views, I have mine, and no matter how much we try, we just don’t click.

There is a lot I hold against my mum. The most important is that I don’t have my voice around her. When I express my thoughts, feelings, or opinions, I am shot down, topped with her own story, or accused of raising my voice. In the end, my mum withdraws from any conversation by saying, “It was better when I didn’t say anything.” This drives me mad. But one incident after another, I gave up. I nod to what she says and convince myself in my head that there’s no point for me to speak.

So I am always puzzled about how to approach this relationship.

From my adult perspective, I see that I wasn’t born to please my mum or make her happy. That is not my job or responsibility. I would love her to be happy, but it is ultimately up to her. All I can do is ensure I am happy in life so she doesn’t have to worry and can be somewhat proud.

From a child’s perspective, I do miss having a mum who is my friend, my rock, my home—someone who loves me unconditionally.

I have a memory from when I was about four (I assume). I went for a sleepover with my auntie, who had a daughter a year younger than me. I always liked visiting her. It was fun. My auntie was always smiling, warm, and nurturing. We were having a bubble bath with my cousin, playing with toys in the warm water. When my auntie took me out of the bath to dry my body with a soft towel, I looked at her and asked if I could call her ‘mum’. I only remember she gave me a reasonable explanation of why this was not a good idea. Unfortunately, she told my mum about this, and I think this changed everything. I am not sure my mum ever got over it, although she never spoke with me about it. I imagine it must have been a painful experience for her. But I was a kid, so I wonder why I would ask my auntie something like that. Did I not have the same quality of nurturing at home? I guess not.

These days, I don’t see my mum often. If I don’t call, she doesn’t call me either. When I feel sorry for her, I reach out to take her out and entertain her a bit. Recently, I had an awakening that I could just look at my mum for what she is and let go of any expectations. Accept that she is doing her best and stop judging her. Appreciate what she can give me and not hold grudges for what she couldn’t offer.

Having a loving heart for her makes things easier. It brings acceptance of who she is and peace of mind for me to be myself without her in my life. I would still pay a visit for Mother’s Day or call her on her birthday, but I will not feel responsible for making her happy anymore.

I can forgive her and continue doing the inner work to heal my wounds from childhood. It’s no one’s fault she couldn’t be the mum I needed, but it is my responsibility as an adult to take good care of myself and let go of self-criticism that initially is the voice of my disappointed mother.

Despite it being Mother’s Day, I won’t tell you I have a wonderful mother or that our relationship is great. I’m telling you the truth. The truth is, I got her carnations and her favourite Rafaello. My sister and I will visit her, have tea and cake, and then leave. We’ll continue with our lives, free from any expectations, knowing we can’t change her but appreciating that she does try her best, even if it doesn’t feel enough for us.

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