I’ve taken on a few things lately because I felt like I needed to give back in some bigger ways. I’m in training with the Trevor Project to be a volunteer crisis counselor with their organization. It’s ten weeks, over forty hours, and honestly I am learning a lot even though I already work in mental health.
Crisis counseling is a different ball game, and I have to turn my psych NP brain off in some ways. The approach is very different than a long term medication management or therapy intake. The training is also the only training I’ve ever taken that is ALL Queer focused. It’s pretty amazing. It’s also disheartening to think back on all the trainings I have attended and how hetero-cis-centric they were.
When my training is complete I’ll volunteer for three hours a week on their chat/text line. It’s a crisis line targeting LGBTQ+ youth ages 12-24, but they will talk to anyone of any age. I completed a few hours of training on Mother’s Day and really reflected on all the LGBTQ+ people I have treated and known already in my life who needed a space outside their own Mom to be safe.
I was watching a Roseanne episode and Jackie is celebrating breaking up with her baby daddy, she says to the baby and to Roseanne, “I get to do what I want, dress him the way I want, and if he turns out gay I’ll just march in those parades with him won’t I?” It’s a funny moment in the show, but as a Queer person who has treated so many Queer people disowned by their Moms…it was quite poignant.
Mother’s Day is such a loaded holiday for the populations I treat. Postpartum and perinatal mental health brings many Moms who have suffered pregnancy loss across my doorstep. As well as moms who struggled adjusting to motherhood and who may have resentment and shame and guilt about their entry into this lifelong role. Then my Queer folks who have suffered their own Mom’s disowning them due to archaic and hateful belief systems they feel bound to uphold at the cost of their own child.
Then there is the every day person who may have had a shitty childhood in their eyes. There are so many ways a Mom can fail, trust me, I’ve heard about many many of them over the years in my work. The basics- emotional, physical and/or financial abuse and neglect but damage can be less overt, more insidious, longer or shorter term. The Mother-Child relationship is possibly the most complicated relationship in all of human relationships. Google says it’s marriage. But if we take out non-familial relationships, I’m betting on mom-child.
For me Mother’s day is a struggle because I am a single mom, and I never planned on being a single mom. It’s the right path for me for sure, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings about my motherhood journey as it stands now. Single moms of seven year old twin boys do not really get to enjoy Mother’s Day as in there is no breakfast in bed or anything else requiring a second adult. It’s still just another day, sort of all about these ego-centric little kids. But then if I don’t see them on Mother’s Day I’m sad and I want to see them. But Sunday is my one day that they go with my ex, so then I give up my one day to go grocery shopping and do laundry.
I know, first world problems. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful, so grateful to be a Mom. I worked hard as hell to have those boys. But I am still allowed to grieve the loss of the family I envisioned. Mother’s Day since divorce has been a puzzle for me to try and piece together. Mother’s Day nine years into outpatient mental health, and I’d be blind and deaf if I didn’t realize it’s incredibly complicated for so many others.
To every one mourning the loss of your vision of Motherhood this Mother’s Day, I see you. Take care of yourself. Find something that brings you joy after you sift through your grief. To everyone single-mom-ing it this Mother’s Day- I am you! Give yourself precious moments to reflect on your journey as it stands and feel whatever feelings that brings- pain, relief, joy, grief, resentment, anger, love- feel it all. Then get back out there kicking ass. Because there is no person stronger/braver/more resilient than a single Mom.