Friday, June 1, 2007

Mama, You Been On My Mind: May's Perfect Post

It's no great insight on my part to point out that mother-daughter relationships seem like the most complicated and complex relationships that exist. Having grown up with a mom who was less than perfect, I stand in awe and wonder before my friends who have close and meaningful relationships with their mothers. More than that, I actually envy them.

My mother died in 2001, and in her typical overly dramatic fashion, died Mother's Day week. Her funeral was the Saturday before Mother's Day and I spent the next afternoon going through her house searching for anything that might tell me who my father was.

My mom was my mom and I loved her in my own way. But she was not a woman of whom I could be proud. She was loud, defiant, flashy, proud, mean, selfish, jealous, petty, vulgar, and worst of all, angry. She always put herself first and expected others to do the same. She either could not nor would not negotiate. She could never put her pride aside to either compromise or do something for the benefit of someone else.

She conceived me out of wedlock and when she had the choice of putting me up for adoption or keeping me, she kept me. And by the way, she got pregnant with me while her fiancé was in Vietnam. When he offered to marry her anyway, she refused because she was too proud, taking away any chance I had to have a dad.

All I know about my father is that my mom hated him, and according to her, he asked her to have an abortion. I know that for whatever reason, my mother had so little respect for herself that she never had a healthy or normal relationship with a man. The only two relationships she had, that I was aware of as an adult, were with men who clearly did not care about her.

I've spent the whole of my adolescent and adult life trying to figure out how to be anything but what my mother was. From my perspective, she never cared about anyone but herself.

I don't want to be that person. More and more I find myself feeling angry and jealous and petty and bitter. Where I once felt gratitude and joy and generosity and hope, now I find fear and anger and sadness. Like my mom, I often find myself approaching life from a position of scarcity rather than abundance. I know that there is plenty of love and light and hope and everything I need in this life to go around. Yet, like my mom, I find myself thinking as if I have to scrap and fight for every inch and maybe even take some of someone else's to ensure my own satisfaction.

I never used to be this way and all I can do is wonder how I got here. Well, wonder how I got here and try to craft a roadmap out of here.

I want to be a woman my sons can be proud of. I want to make their lives better than mine. I want their lives to be filled with happiness and joy and hope. I want to overflow with love...not only for my sons and husband, but for my friends, and for strangers, and for the world.

I want to be like this woman, Renratt's mom. More and more, I find myself beginning to look toward other women and mothers as the role models of love and generosity and confidence and goodness and compassion that I want to become and model for my children.

Renratt's post gets my award for May's Perfect Post. It's obvious she shares her mother's beauty and goodness and love for the world.

I am grateful to her for sharing the story of her mother's life. If I can become a fraction of the woman she was, show a modicum of the love she had for others, I can be something more than my mom. I can be someone my sons can hold in high esteem.


Jen aka Evilynmo said...

Wow. I am so touched that you shared this stuff. I have a very strained relationship with my Mom. She is also very selfish and in general just not nice to me. I sooo feel ya on wanting to be a different person and a different mom to my kid(s). If it is any consolation I think you are already a million times better off because you realize what you don't want and what you do want. So many people, like our mothers, can't even recognize what they are feeling and how they are influencing/hurting thier loved ones.

rennratt said...

Simply realizing that you want to be different - and making the effort - is what it is all about.

Your call is not to be perfect - or to even try. Just be YOU, and LOVE.

Thank you for this nomination, my love. Your words brought me to tears.

For the record - my mum was FAR from perfect. Yet her impact was great in spite of it.

I just thought you should know that.

Rich | Championable said...

Yeah, that post from Renratt is pretty much the end-all be-all. I linked to it, too.

The cool thing about growing up is that we get to repave our childhoods by being the best parents we can be.

As for everything Jen said? Ditto.

Dawn said...

I realized that even in writing my post I sound a little bitter. Sorry for that.

I realize how very fortunate I am. And Jen, you are right. Half the battle is acknowledging our shortcomings and moving forward from there.

Thank you all for listening to me and letting me be me.

You know...I never used to tell anyone these things. I was so ashamed of not having a dad or not knowing my dad that I made up stories for different audiences about who and what he was, where he was, etc. I've come a very long way in being able to admit the truth.

I'm glad I have a group of people willing to accept me as I am without judgment.

thanks for that.

keddyj said...

I am Rennratt's sister. You would be EXACTLY who Mom would "adopt" and make you one of us! I bet if you look around and pray, that there will be someone near you who would adopt you where you are...if not...we have room even if our mom is gone. And Renn...You rock! I love you and am VERY proud of you!

MiriyaB (Becca) said...

"I want to be a woman my sons can be proud of. ... I want their lives to be filled with happiness and joy and hope."

You are--and they will be. You are an amazing human being, a strong and beautiful woman, and a source of great joy and hope.

God bless you and keep you and yours: may God show lovingkindness to you, as a parent shows lovingkindness to children(a wish from the liturgy for the High Holy Days; I'm sure it has a Biblical source--since there's lots of imagery of God as nurturing father or nursing life-giving mother--but can't pin it to a particular spot in Scripture at present...)