Julie’s Reflection on Mother’s Day


“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love.

–Dorothy Day


For last few months I have been encountering grieving mothers so frequently here at Listening House, I feel compelled to write about it.  Some of the grief has come from mothers here in the living room, who have lost custody of their children, for one reason or another, to partners, grandparents or the child protection system.  This is probably a necessary and proper decision but still comes with intense grief.  The shame and guilt stagger them and make them want to hide.

Then, there are the mothers who call looking for their children, seeking to help them, and hoping for change.  One mother calls or texts every day to see if her daughter has made it through the night.  Her daughter is very addicted, mentally ill and living an extremely risky life, however she does not meet the criteria for psychiatric hold for hospitalization.  She’s in an in-between place, too sick to make good decisions for herself, not sick enough to be hospitalized against her will.  We sadly have many guests who fall into this category.  We work closely with Ramsey County Crisis, the police, mental/chemical outreach workers and family to try to get help for them.  The waiting and comprehension of mental health law is agonizing and frustrating for families.  For me, the least we can do is to help them wait and understand, by texting this mother to say her daughter is here safe with us today.  It gives her a little hope and comfort for the day and helps her cope until a long term solution can be found.

Lastly, there are mothers who are so grateful to us.  These are the mothers who call, send Christmas cards, pictures, and hope.  One called last week expressing gratitude that we helped her son get into chemical health treatment.  “You helped give us back our son,” she said.  I couldn’t help but think that she got part of her heart back that had been so broken.   These are happy stories that energize us to keep hopeful and vigilant about helping our guests that are still here in our living room.

Many people assume that the people we serve have no family that care about them.  This can be true in some cases, but in most cases it is not.  We try our best to be a place of connection, hospitality, and support to both families and guests.  Because Listening House is such a maternal place, guests will often ask me if I am a mother.  When I tell them I am not, they will sometimes say that we are substitute mothers for many here at Listening House.  It is certainly true that there is a huge need in our living room for the gift of tough, faithful, forgiving, and enduring love whether from mothers near and far, or from right here in our community.

A very Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers and to those who fulfill the role and commitment of Mother in one way or another.


` Julie Borgerding

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