Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

One of the toughest tasks I ever faced was buying a Mother's Day card for my mom. You see, I didn't love her. So those heartfelt Hallmark fluffy bunny cards seemed hypocritical to me.

When I got old enough to be independent of my mom, and more savvy about the world, I would just go into the store and choose the first card in the first row, and just sign it without even looking at the text.

Mom taught me how to read and write when I was three. She was a public school teacher who was thwarted by her bad health and was unable to work.

Her bad health was bipolar disorder.

When I was two she had her first major breakdown requiring hospitalization. I don't remember what she did during that episode, but judging by how she like to discipline with her fists and/or a paddle, she may have hurt me. Certainly in subsequent episodes of mania she hurt my sister and my father, and once threatened my life.

Mom's bipolar disorder was complicated by her upbringing. Her parents hated each other, and she was in fact a "love child" born of an extramarital relationship. The father who raised her, in short, was not her father. He was a nasty racist with an awful temper, but so, apparently, was the man who was my mom's biological dad. Mom grew up to be a nasty racist with an awful temper.

Growing up, I made one vow. I would not be the kind of mother that fate dealt me.

Having raised two daughters of my own now, the youngest an incredible 20, I think I know the glitch that made parenting so hard for my mother. I don't think she looked at me as a person. I had to be what she wanted, which early on was a Shirley Temple doll, and later on was a show-off prodigy. Seems like I was always performing on demand, usually at family gatherings as my cousins smirked and the adults studied their feet.

I've looked at my children as human beings since the moment they were born. I respected them. Of course we have had arguments, but I never called them names or whacked them with a paddle. I wasn't ever a model mother (if there is such a thing), but I wasn't a nightmare, either.

Heir and Spare are both fabulous individuals. They both love me. Today, Mother's Day, one of them is in Romania and the other is in Baltimore. But they didn't have to lard me with flowers and cake. I know how they feel about me.

As for how I feel about my mom, well, let's just say that being able to understand her, forgive her, and move on has been one of the major challenges of my life. I'm working on it, though.

On this Mother's Day, may the Goddess look down upon those whose mothers are damaged and dysfunctional. May those who suffer such mothers reach around and beyond them and find the wellspring of mother-love, which is the Divine.

Blessed be the Goddess. Love your Mother.


Cat C-B said...

I've passed this one along, because this is a difficult day for a lot of us. I'm grateful to have had a mother who, while human and imperfect, has been easy to love.

But so many of my friends had a different sort of mom. I am grateful for the ways they have found to become wonderful human beings even without that advantage. And I'm grateful to you for sharing a story that might help a few hearts to heal, at least a little.

Blessed be, my friend.

Lucretia said...

Amen and Ashe. Your daughters must be VERY proud of you; I know I would be if I were them.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

You have broken the cycle of ignorance and abuse not only for your two wonderful daughters, but for the children they will have and love as well. Happy Mother's Day, Anne!


I loved my mother...but did not like her.I know how you feel.

Davoh said...

Mothers are peculiar people. And yes, am writing this from the viewpoint of a 69 year old male.

Therefore, i cannot truly understand, or comprehend, the filial bond created by childbirth.

My genetic 'father' (sire?) died in 1945 - long, WW2 related, story - then from my ages between 6 months and 5 years - lived in a house with two females. My Mother, and her mother - my grandmother. Mother re-married.
(another very long story). I left home at age 12.

From memory, my mother was always very 'stiff' and 'disproving' of whatever i did. Had only sporadic contact with her until 1999, when my cousin informed me that she was becoming a bit 'dotty'.

Returned to see her, live in my 'home State' (South Australia) ... and yes, in her last 3 years, allowed me to "hug" her for the first time. She died in her 89th year; 2009: (and was holding her hand at the time).

Yep, "Love" is a peculiar notion or emotion.

I do have a son, now age 40, who, oddly enough, returned from England in 2009 (another long story) - who now refuses to communicate with me.

Ah, life happens, over time.

My Best Wishes, Anne - for you ... and your children.

Kimber said...

This touched home Anne.

Thank you for writing.