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.