May 23, 2005

I Can Talk About My Mamma, But You Can't Talk About My Mamma

It has taken two years of therapy, realizing the weight of parenting, grasping the grace of God, and ten good years of "real" adult life to understand my mother in terms of her humanity rather than her failures.

It took my gathering her bits of history from those whom I knew I could trust and piecing them together with what she felt comfortable sharing with me to put together what I felt was an accurate, merciful, portrayal of one woman striving in this life under the weight of all her pain, disappointment, betrayal, lack of knowledge, moral guidance, and limited resources. I long ago held her accountable, but with account must come forgiveness and a decision of either reconciliation or rejection. I choose reconciliation.

Nothing challenges me more than when someone chooses to focus on the ways my mother let me down (past tense) and then use it against me. A lot of effort has gone into realizing the ways my mother has positively contributed to me, who I am. It has taken much analysis and honest digging into who I am to find the foundation she laid, to repair rather than demolish.

My mother is many things, some of them less than desirable, but then so is every person in this world. In this life, I choose to focus on the wonderful attributes that she has cultivated in herself: generosity, thoughtfulness, resolve, determination, and that she, indeed, did pass them on to me.

For those who say that I am taking the "easy way out, just like your mother" without concern for my daughters, you obviously don't know me. You know absolutely nothing about me. And, what, may I ask, is so f**king easy about this decision?

Let's review a quick synopsis of mother's life, shall we?

Parents divorce at age 6. Mother depressed, controlling, alcoholic, father leaves. Must take on job by lying at age 14 at local drive-in. Works, maintains grades, plays basketball and cheerleads, feeds younger sister daily because mother has abdicated her role as parent. Leaves home for college. Find self pregnant at 19. What do you do in 1970 when unmarried and pregnant? Get married.

Husband number one: addicted to prescription drugs, abusive, manic-depressive; marriage ends after four months. Bears and rears daughter alone while pursuing a two-year R.N. in order to provide a decent living for self and daughter.

Husband number two: after seven years of living together, marries this evil man only to have him commit suicide leaving you three months pregnant- scared, angry, alone, dreams flushed by selfish bastard.

(Pardon me, but are you seeing a pattern here?)

Years of ignorance and neglectful parenting reach fruition and decision is made to send daughter to a Christian "boarding school"- you know, to make a difference in her life because you can't seem to.

Third and final husband: to outsiders, quite normal. Personally, controlling jerk. Ends in divorce after 11 months.

My brother and I are the only ones who have any place, any standing to question our mother because coupled with our great disappointment is an even greater, compelling love. It took everything in me, every power, whether by God or my own strength to not allow myself to overtaken by indignation. It made me quietly thankful that R has kept his thoughts to himself about my mother, only carefully giving me his opinion when I pried for it, and even then attempting to leave out inflammatory words.

To this day, I still recognize the her failures, still see them expressed in myself, in my brother. I even see very slight colors of them in my girls. But what I see more prominently is a woman, me, and a man on the cusp of his life, my brother, who have been made strong by the weaknesses of their mother, and humbled by her strengths.

So now, I must choose to overlook this unintentioned slight. It isn't easy, but it is right to do so and like so many other things in my life, I can choose to allow it to cause me frailty, or I can be strengthened. Thanks for the opportunity. And don't worry, I think it should be pretty obvious by now that I am not a vengeful or begrudging person. Something else I think I learned from my mother.

Posted by Rae at May 23, 2005 10:43 PM

It is good that you are seeing good in your mother. Through her trials she has become wise to many things in life and for sure she can offer much help to those who will consider such as an offering of peace and help for those who hurt now and are willing.

Posted by: R at May 24, 2005 12:33 AM

A shared with me small parts your conversation I appreciate your willingness to share with her...I am still overwhelmed with the intensity of the tension...the pressure you must be bearing.

I was impressed with the following from you blog:

"I long ago held her accountable, but with account must come forgiveness and a decision of either reconciliation or rejection. I choose reconciliation."

I know very little about your "Mamma" but I am impressed with your perseverence in that relationship and your willingness to pursue reconciliation and forgiveness. You and yours are in my prayers.

Posted by: K at May 24, 2005 06:26 AM

[HUGS] across the ether to you.

Posted by: Ith at May 24, 2005 08:33 PM

Thanks K and Ith.

Posted by: Rae at May 25, 2005 05:41 PM

I was hoping that you would post today. It took me a minute to find the comments section. I look forward to seeing you at home on Sunday. I have missed your company. I love you.

Posted by: R at May 28, 2005 03:28 AM
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