An Unexpected Gift for 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?

An Unexpected Gift for Mother’s DayI 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.

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    4 Responses to An Unexpected Gift for Mother’s Day

    1. Avatar
      Duana Wilkins May 10, 2015 at 8:56 am #

      Great article Barb. And I can’t recommend your book, “A Very Fine House,” highly enough. Thank you the education and advocacy your provide.

      Duana Wilkins
      Change Addiction Now Org
      Peer Support for Families

    2. Avatar
      Mischell May 10, 2015 at 9:59 am #

      Thank you for sharing your blog. I could do relate. My mom is in a 12 step program with myself and my 17 year old daughter. I got clean first. It’s been a long road and a journey we are all still on. You give me hope and I am also friends with your daughter. I hope you have a wonderful day. We have so much to be thankful for!

    3. Avatar
      Linda May 11, 2015 at 7:33 am #

      A beautiful story with a happy ending! I often have to remind myself of something I once read “expectations are future resentments”. I see you have discovered that for yourself in a positive way. What a blessing that your daughter is in recovery and doing what she needs to do to maintain her recovery. Bless you both.

    4. Avatar
      Kathy Frasier May 11, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

      This made me smile. My son came galloping through the door at 6pm yesterday with a card and a bouquet with such exuberance and pride. It’s been many, many years since I’ve received anything. I realized that my greatest joy was seeing him and while it warmed my heart, his presence was the gift. ODAT. ~ Kathy

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