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Tending the Dandelions

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day bring up mixed emotions for many. I am estranged from my birth mother following years of a fractured relationship. For a variety of reasons, we never bonded. However, I was lucky to be raised beside my grandmother and two great-aunts who filled the mother role and gave me the nurturing I needed.

I have a beautiful memory of my mother. I loved to color and had a wagon full of crayons I’d pull around the house. On one trip down the hall way, the wagon overturned, spilling crayons everywhere. I looked at the huge mess and my tiny hands, realized it would take me forever to get them picked up, and started to cry. Mom mother came over and scooped all of the crayons up in no time. I wasn’t in trouble, and she didn’t yell. She just quietly scooped them up. I remember feeling so grateful and thinking that her hands were so much bigger, and she was so fast. It showed me that the bigger people can help solve problems sometimes and gave me hope that my whole day wasn’t going to be spent dealing with a mess. Over the years, if anyone brought up negative memories about her, my mind whispers, Yes, but there was that one day with the wagon full of crayons.

All of us at times have had people who came into our lives and helped. They were able to give us what we needed, when we needed it. Some of us had people who maybe wanted to help but didn’t have what we needed. These are not “good people” or “bad people”. They are just people who could or could not be what we needed when we needed it.

We always have the right to think of our parents in good ways, no matter what the circumstances. Maybe there is a life time of happy memories, maybe there are a few happy memories, or maybe there is just one really good one. Maybe you only have vague memories of your parent, maybe you never knew them and never will. You still have the right to think fondly of them. (If anyone ever talks badly about your parent in front of you, it’s okay to ask them to please stop.)

In some cases, they weren’t able to give you want you needed so they helped you find a path that could nurture you. They wanted better for you. Sometimes dandelions can grow in very rocky places, but it is not easy. Perhaps they wish their little seedlings will blow away and find a softer landing.

Sometimes parents never learned how to be parents. They were never taught this because their parents didn’t know either. They don’t know how to take care of someone else. If I asked you to drive a car without ever teaching you how to do it, you would not drive successfully. Even if I gave you the most amazing, wonderful car, you still would not be able to drive it well. It has nothing to do with how special the car is and everything to do with you trying to do something you never learned how to do. It’s not your fault your parents never learned how to be parents, and it’s not your fault if helpers had to get you to someone who knew how to care for you.

When Mother’s Day and Father’s Day comes around, you may have some uncomfortable feelings. You may feel sadness or grief, and sometimes this comes out as anger. Sometimes when we feel angry, we want to lash out at the people who are in our lives because we are angry at the people who can’t be there. When this happens, check in with yourself to figure out how you’re really feeling and who the anger is directed at. Take a break if you need to. Ask yourself if there is something you can do to feel better. What do you need? Do you need to write a letter to the missing parent to say how you feel? Do you need to pretend they are sitting there and get all of your feelings off your chest? After that, do something that makes you happy such as playing a favorite game or spending time with friends.

Remember nothing that happened in the past has to hurt your future. You get to decide how your future will be. Think about all those who are there to love you and guide you. Some people had to love you best by stepping aside because they weren’t able to take care you. There are only two types of people in this world: those you thrive in spite of and those you thrive because of. Either way, my little dandelions, my little wishes, you thrive.

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