Mental Health: Mother's Day Tribute
What is a mother? Is a mother someone who gives birth to a child? Is a mother someone who takes in a child who isn’t biologically her own, but raises and loves that child as her own? Is a mother someone who gives up her career to raise her children? Is a mother someone who makes sure her children are cared for while she works on building a career? Is a mother someone who provides emotional support, financial support, or both? What does it mean to be a mother?
In 2019 Mothers come in all forms. Whether they give birth to children of their own or they adopt, both are equally amazing and full of love. Whether they stay at home running the household or they are chasing their dreams at work, both are able to provide so much for their families. You see, what makes modern motherhood so incredible is that there is no “right way” to do it; everyone is able to get creative and make being a mother their own art. However, I will say there is definitely a universal standard of making sure your kids are fed, safe, and shown affection every single day. Other than that, the ability to parent is open for interpretation.
I was raised in a household where both parents worked. However, my mother worked extremely part-time giving me a LOT of her time and attention; honestly, I probably needed it. Not that I was a bad kid by any means, but adopted kids tend to struggle with a different handful of insecurities. For instance, the dark thoughts of “not being wanted” or being “left behind” from my biological family definitely crossed my mind. However, my mother was always able to erase those thoughts of darkness with her gentle hugs and comforting voice. My parents adopted me when I was two and one-half years old, but I was fortunate to have known them my entire life. In fact, my mother was actually the first to hold me immediately following my biological mother! Unlike most adopted kids, I had a very unique situation, for I was adopted by my grandparents instantly making our bond grow from strong to incredibly strong. My mother was not only my biological grandmother, but she soon became my adopted mother, and eventually we grew to become best friends.
Now I know many girls say that their mothers are their best friends, but when I say it I truly mean it. There hasn’t been another human being on this earth that I trust more than my mother (other than my husband, of course). In my life, my mother instilled that lying was a definite way to destruction. We were always very transparent with one another, even if it meant that the other’s feelings may get hurt. While many may shake their heads at that and say that isn’t healthy, it was actually very beneficial for my mom and me. I have never had to hide anything from her because she accepts facts, reads through the spite, and recognizes the immense love I have for her.
This tactic was extremely important when I was diagnosed with severe depression for nobody except for my mom wanted to be around me. Nobody checked up on me and nobody even noticed nor cared if I wasn’t in school due my suicidal thoughts. Even other members in my family would ignore me or tell me that I was being a “drama queen” when in reality all I wanted to do was find a way to kill myself. The only things that kept me moving forward were God and, of course, my mom. She sat by my side throughout all of my panic attacks, my therapy appointments, and doctor visits: even the ones where I would get lippy with the staff. Damn, what a trooper my mom. Because we were able to have open communication I was able to tell her everything I was thinking and feeling no matter how dark it got, and she didn’t step back for a moment. She stood there determined to help me fight the demons in my head.
As we continued to work on my mental health, my mom encouraged me to find happiness and passion. Through many trials and errors I was eventually able to find my purpose and passion and I was able to create a new path that I wouldn’t have otherwise found. Through her support, her love, and her encouragement I was able to meet my husband, create my own career, and now raise a little family of my own - all while living with depression.
Learning to openly communicate not only helped our relationship grow, but it helped me realize that this is the same type of relationship I want to have with my daughter: a relationship where nothing needs to be hidden, nothing needs to be a secret, and one in which she can come to me without any fear of being left behind.
I’m not going to lie; I wasn’t prepared to be a mother. In fact, motherhood wasn’t even on my radar until I found out that I was pregnant. However, I truly believe that my daughter was destined to come when she did, for she became my main motivation. Now I was responsible for a life other than my own, and THAT is crazy. At 21 I gave birth to the little girl who would save my life.
After giving birth I suffered from extreme post-partum depression. Obviously, since I already had depression, the doctors predicted that it would happen, and boy were they right! There actually came a point where I thought I wanted to hurt myself, but then I looked over at my princess and I knew in that moment that I could never hurt myself again.
The child looks to the mother for inspiration, motivation, and lessons on how to act/live/survive. I would NEVER want my child to watch me and think that self-harm or self-depreciation in what I say to myself is okay. I wouldn’t ever want to my child resort to self-harm or self-destruction, which is how she saved my life. She woke me up, showing me that how I take care of myself will replay in how she will see herself. Knowing this motivated me to not only show myself love through non-destruction, but also with positive affirmations and healthy living. My mother brought me life and my daughter saved my life.
Now you’re probably wondering if my relationship with my mom has changed since having my baby. Of course, it has! It obviously isn’t just us two anymore in our dynamic duo. Instead, we have become the three musketeers: shopping, and exploring new places together just as I used to do with my mom. Our dynamic has probably gotten even stronger, for now that I am a mother my mom allows me to take leadership and be the mother I was meant to be with new rules and ideas on how to raise a child. Granted, I am still constantly checking with her and asking her opinion on everything from what clothes are cute to how do I get the baby to stop crying; but, that is something many women will always do with their mothers. If I were to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way as far as female family members go: just my mom, my babes and me - the three musketeers.
Unfortunately, not everyone is fortunate in having an effortless relationship between mother and daughter and, honestly, that is okay. Sometimes, mothers can be extremely toxic and, as a mental health advocate I will 100% support a decision to cut out toxic people in your lives: especially if they are manipulative, abusive, or don’t accept and love you for who you are.
Whether you are a mom or not, I want to encourage all of you to reach out to your mothers and mother-like figures and remind them how much they mean to you. Life is short. Make the most of it by spreading your gratitude and love, especially to those who have sacrificed so much for you!
To help me celebrate Mother’s Day, I have asked each of my female team members to write a little something for their mothers or daughters to help celebrate all types of mother-daughter relationships across Minnesota! Grab some tissues and get ready to appreciate the beautiful bond between a mother and her daughter.
Meghanlee Phillips is the Editor-in-Chief of The Volk Magazine. With a passion for fashion, a love for writing and her lifestyle focused around mental health; she has been able to bring all three together to create the mid-western fashion/lifestyle magazine, The Volk. Keep up to date with her and her vibrant style by following @msmeghanlee (Instagram)