Was I a failure as a mother?

When my child killed himself, the first thing I thought about– when I could, in fact, think– was that he left because of something I didn’t do right. How crummy a mother was I that my child checked out on me? I saw it as a failure at the one job that meant most to me in the world, ushering my child to successful adulthood.

When I look back and start to beat myself up, something that doesn’t happen as often as it once did, I have to remember I didn’t know then what I know now. And I can’t judge myself through a lens of today’s knowledge. There’s a reason they say, “hindsight is 20/20.”

I still haven’t answered the actual question here.

Am I a failure as a mother?

I’m not in a place where I can say, “I was a darn good mother.” I can say, however,  I did the best I could with the resources available to me. I can’t make someone accept care no matter how much he might have needed it. What’s more, I no longer have a magnifying glass on the 5% that I didn’t do well and ignore the 95% of the things I did right. My son grew up in a house of love and devotion. That much I know.

That’s not what finally did it, though.

The trigger that helped me move past the “failure” notion was meeting other mothers and fathers who had lost a child to suicide or overdose. They were all such normal, good, caring parents and some of the most wonderful, thoughtful people I’ve ever met. Good people. It struck me as unbelievable this could happen to them. That’s when I understood this happens to good parents.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

4 thoughts on “Was I a failure as a mother?”

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Anne. I appreciate your vulnerability. It’s clearly helping others and demonstrating that it is OK to talk about this kind thing.

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