(This article was first posted on addiction.com on Mother’s Day.)
It was the first Mother’s Day since my daughter’s return home from treatment six months before. My son was away at college, so this would be a mother-daughter Mother’s Day, the first after many years apart. I was expectant and ready, with visions of adoration, breakfast in bed and a marching band coming through the house.
It would finally be my turn. My turn to bask in all things “mother.” My turn to have the long-suffering, gaping hole in my heart filled with thank yous and amends. I had fought the good fight to save my daughter from the clenches of meth, and it was now MY TURN.
Mother’s Day had frankly never been that big of a deal in our home. A contrived Hallmark holiday in my estimation, it was typically a day like any other. But this year was different: I wanted something. I needed something to mark the apparent finish line of my daughter’s addiction, and a celebration of my role in helping to make that happen.
I wanted the diploma. I wanted the validation. I wanted the Queen-for-a-Day crown. I wanted my daughter.
When she announced last-minute plans to leave town for the weekend, an all-too-familiar resentment swelled inside of me like burning lava.
The 12-step program, of which she was a new member, had scheduled their annual regional convention over Mother’s Day weekend. My girl, her boyfriend and their friends, planned a road trip that would take them well into the next state. Conversations with my daughter were centered on the size of suitcase to take, not the size of my crown. Leave it to a bunch of drug addicts to do something as selfish as scheduling their conference on Mother’s Day, I thought. Huff, stew, sob, snort. I was absolutely inconsolable, and my heavy footsteps reverberated throughout the house as I stomped out my indignance.
I knew enough not to huff, stew, sob and snort in front of my daughter. At least I’d learned that much in my own 12-step program. But why did the “addicts” get to have her on that all-important day? They’d had her for years while I grieved and fretted and waited. When in God’s name would she finally be mine again?
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when the revelation came to me, but somehow in my own recovery from selfishly holding on too tight and loving too much, it became apparent to me that my daughter was no longer “mine”— and that she was doing exactly what she needed to do to take care of herself. It was not her job to take care of me.
She’d left home a troubled girl, and returned a fledgling adult, full of all the hope and promise that life has to offer. It had been a circuitous route to adulthood, for sure, but there she now was. What greater gift could be mine on Mother’s Day?
Early that Mother’s Day morning, I received a thoughtful call from my college-age son, and my husband gave me a rare escort to church. The sun had just set on the weekend when my daughter and her friends finally rolled into our driveway. In that last light of dusk I saw her unfold from the car, crumpled and bleary-eyed after a seven-hour drive. In her hand was a massive bouquet of spring flowers that just screamed Queen-for-a-Day.