Last Sunday, America celebrated Mother’s Day. It’s a holiday filled with sentimentality, cleverly wrapped in flowers, brunch, and Hallmark cards. But in recent years, we’ve become aware that Mother’s Day can be a painful day for many women: Those who have never known their mothers. Those who have never borne a child. Those who have laid a child to rest. Those whose best efforts have not been enough to protect a child from pain.
I believe that every mom wants to protect her child from pain. The best efforts, though, sometimes aren’t enough. California writer Tracey Yorkas shares her own experience on this particular Mother’s Day.
This Mother’s Day I don’t have a mom and I can’t be a mom.
Three weeks after my mother’s sudden death last summer, my 13 year-old daughter was diagnosed with depression.
Fast forward to today. My daughter sits in a residential treatment center struggling with self-harm.
She will spend her Sunday playing cards, going on a brief outing, and attending therapy groups.
I will speak with her for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes at dinnertime. I will look at the Post-It notes she wrote in Sharpie for me last year: “HAPPY MOM’S DAY LOVE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING!”
Unless she remembers it is Mother’s Day, I won’t remind her. She feels bad enough already about events of the last several months.
My wish for you this Mother’s Day season is that you never understand the pain of knowing your child copes by slicing her skin open with a razor blade, or of finding blood on her clothes, or of having someone tell you it would be better if she didn’t live with you for a while. That she is safer elsewhere.
Hearing the words “We think your daughter needs to go to residential treatment” can buckle your knees.
But the truth is that self-harm is a real problem. Our kids are in trouble. Keep your eyes open. Does your child refuse to wear shorts or t-shirts? Does he have unexplained scratches, some more healed than others without explanation? Has your previously out-going child become withdrawn? These are warning signs that your child might have turned to self-harm or “cutting.” (S)he might not need residential treatment, but it is a cry for help.
You can’t pretend it will go away.
In school we educate our children about the dangers of illegal drugs and unprotected sex. Let’s tell them they don’t have to suffer alone or in silence and that a razor blade is not their best friend.