It takes us a long time, as children, to get outside of ourselves and realize our parents have lives outside the scope of us. Not just lives before us, or lives after we move out, but wholly private lives that run concurrent with our own upbringing.

As her daughter, it took me nearly 20 years not to pity my mother’s “otherness.” She stopped pitying it herself a long time ago.

It’s taken me longer, still – until writing these words, actually – to develop admiration for the way she turned her seclusion and separation into not just a tool, but a blueprint for that tool; there were other women out there, who also didn’t have anyone to go to, and so she would use her resources to help them.

Haley B. Elkins, in xoJane (2013), reflecting on her mother’s work helping abused women. Read more on our Mother’s Day reading list.

Photo: sidelong, Flickr