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  • Renee LaVallee McKenna,MA

My Real Mother


I avoid Mother's Day. I'm so used to avoiding it, that it takes energy to notice I'm doing it. I am a mother myself, so I get lots of texts and posts, a few cards. I send the same out to the many mothers I know. But there's a deeper avoidance that is habitual- avoiding my own mother.


She's dead 10 years now. The saddest thing about her death is that I wasn't sad. The second saddest thing is that 5 people attended her funeral and three of them were with me. I realized I was avoiding Mother's Day when I saw all the posts about how much people missed their mothers. The third saddest thing is that it's still a relief that she is gone.


My mother and I were never close. The gap between the cultural archetype of the attentive, loving mother and the frail, sickly, manipulative woman who bore me was a chasm. I tried to fill that void with food, men, achievement, rage and alcohol. For a long time I blamed and hated her. Mostly we just didn't talk or see each other much.


Michael Brown says in his book, The Presence Process, that we "get what is required" in life. The emotional and spiritual wound around my mother ultimately lead me to become a therapist. I learned to move toward the dark void of my anger, grief and pain rather than to deny it. In that pit of suffering a great light began to dawn. My own vulnerability called the Great Mother to her child. My real mother, the Mother of All Mothers, the Divine Feminine, came to me through my deepest emotions. She poured compassion, love, understanding and hope into me and over time I was healed.


At the end of Fran's life, I was able to care for her in the way I had always wished that she would care for me. I was able to offer the forgiveness and understanding that only Mary, Tara, Durga or White Buffalo Calf Woman can provide. I can tell you 10 things Fran taught me that are truly valuable and I can be grateful that I am very close to my real mother, the mother of my soul.

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3131 Rivera St.

San Francisco, CA