I have no recollection of my mother the years before I left the United States at the age of three. I only remember parts of the flight to Madrid and entering what would be my home for the next couple of decades. My grandmother and grandfather greeted us, and I can still hear my grandmother shout “¡Dios mio!” when she saw my father, my sister and me at her doorstep. My parents had split up and my father held custody. I was too young to know that back then.
My sister and I were raised by my grandmother, who at the time had marital troubles of her own, and by my dad, who had to start from scratch after divorcing my mother, much to his regret.
My father had to be both parents to us, and learn how to rear two daughters. He read books about raising children, as most parents do, although now you can do all this research online. However, there are no real rules that apply to child rearing, beyond the basics. It was not easy for any of us.
You may become a motherless daughter or son through death, through divorce or abandonment, but the scarring of this event takes place at a very early age and runs deep.
How loss of a mother affects children
‘I can tell you, based on both personal experience and interviews with hundreds of motherless American women, that losing a mother at an early age is one of the most stressful life events a person can face. It completely rips apart the fabric of a child’s life.
If a son or daughter who loses a mother never receives adequate substitute mothering, the loss can do long-term damage to his or her self-esteem, ability to relate to other people, overall feelings of security and ability to trust others.’
Motherless daughters are left with a void, an empty space which stays within them through life. Some suffer the loss throughout their lives more acutely while others make up for the loss by finding a substitute mother or mothers as I did. I’ve been very lucky.
But that’s life. We all have to make do with what we have and we all keep swimming to shore with all our losses.