A mother’s love is said to be the greatest in the world.

Yet I feel like my own experience with my mother fell short of what I was told.

Many of my childhood memories, despite the happy ones, were memories of her leaving me behind while I cried for her as a child.

I still remember the disappointment that came like a storm when I would wake up, realising she was absent, wishing she would be by my side.

I was disappointed as a child over and over again. Even in my teens, she was emotionally absent.

My mother, in one of the conversations we had, confessed she regretted motherhood.

Motherhood is a journey that comes with challenges, expectations and struggles. Personal space and time were very important to my mother, and she struggled with giving it up, having grown up in a family of eight siblings.ย 

I know the truth is that she cares for me. She cooks and cleans for me. She is a dutiful mother who made sure we never go hungry.

But I’ll never know if she is able to give me the love I need.

To think, I once shared a space in her womb but never a space in her heart.

Repeated abandonment and hurt through the years have made me feel that I was rejected.

To think, I once shared a space in her womb but never a space in her heart.

It stung horribly when she told me she didn’t see the point of attending my graduation as my aunts had expressed interests in going.

There was no need for her to be there, she said (though she eventually attended and even borrowed money for my school fees).

For a mother who never embraced motherhood โ€” and for a child who feels extremely rejected because of that โ€” the pain is complex.

Was I to be blamed for her misery and all the hopes and dreams she couldn’t fulfill because of me? Does my existence in the world depend on her ability to love me?

For a very long time I wrestled hard within.

I felt like an incomplete person. Even though I have a mum, I could never access that unconditional, loving mom my friends seem to have. Being the only believer in the family makes it all the more harder.

How do I deal with this pain Lord? As I wondered, I came across a post by a friend who shared two verses from Isaiah 49.

โ€œCan a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:15-16)

I read that after a particularly bad argument with my family. While crying out to God, I lamented the unlovedness I could never fix in my life.

I lamented the pain as years of rejection and hurt came back and my wounds reopened once more.

Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

But there in the silence, as mental images of a mother who lost her child came to my mind, I heard God speak.

He told me that He would be a perfect parent to me. “See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands,” I heard.

There and then, I felt His embrace over me, comforting me the way a child is comforted.

Flashbacks of painful episodes came, but I saw Him by my side. In my waking and sleeping. In my coming and my going.

Never once did He leave me to my own defences.

Though she may forget, I will not forget you.

Over the years, God has been healing my heart and restoring my identity.

Healing isn’t linear, but as I heal in His love that surpasses the love anyone can offer, the resentment and hurt I bore towards my mother was replaced with a desire to understand her and even appreciate her.

I used to think it was futile to even expect to have a fruitful and loving relationship restored between my mother and I.

But God has been slowly turning my heart towards my mother. I no longer blame her for the love she is unable to offer. The resentment once embedded deep within is no longer there.

There are times where past hurts still surface, but as I heal and pray for my mother to know His love, I know I will never be incomplete again.

For God has never forsaken me.ย 

The writer’s name has been changed for confidentiality.

  1. What is your relationship with your parents like?ย 
  2. What is one area in which you can work at improving this relationship?
  3. What does God say about Himself as a Father?
  4. How might your identity as a child of God change your perspective on your family and relationships?