On my due date November 2001
Mother’s Day is upon us! Folks flood the card aisle. Stores post reminders to “Mother’s Day is May 10!” Well-wishing Mother’s Day Mylar Balloons float around us and tap our shoulders as we stand a the grocery check-out.
This floral holiday Trumps Valentine’s Day, for Goodness sake!
I will never forget the first moment I became a mother. To me, it was not when I peed on the stick and the second line appeared. It was the moment I looked at him. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, despite his cone head and red face.
The hospital wrist band I wore as an infant, and the one I wore and Ronan wore when he was born
He was gorgeous.
I will bet every mother has felt the same way.
Over the past 13 years, I have adored being a mom. Over the past three I have loved being a stepmom, too. Motherhood is the hardest job I have ever loved. I have morphed into a woman I would never have become had I not been blessed with motherhood.
My mother made me a cup of tea the day I took my baby home from the hospital. She set it down and said, “Enjoy. You will never again have another cup of hot tea. “ She was joking, but she was so right.
Mothers love their children unconditionally. Being a mother means putting yourself at the back of the family line. You can always count on Mom. Mom makes the hurt go away.
Mother is a verb.
Some of the best meals I have ever enjoyed were in my bed on mother’s day morning. From the very young age of five my boy brought me breakfast in bed. I think that it started with goldfish and a water bottle. Most recently, my three boys brought me a toasted bagel with cream cheese, a brimming bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios drowning in milk and coffee brewed from the Keurig.
Children idolize their mothers. Mothers are the rock, the source of love and the center of a child’s universe.
In many ways, the attention and love I receive as a mother can feel overwhelming to me. It feels like such a gift. I gift I have never believed I deserved.
But they do love me. I feel it every single day.
In third grade, he gave me this mothers day poem.
My AWESOME Mother’s Day Card 2011
Clearly, it made an impression.
I think that one of the most beautiful moments of motherhood happened in the Chatham Dunkin Donuts on Cape Cod. My two and a half-year-old and I were patiently waiting in line for his chocolate donut. We were surrounded by retirees. A lovely elderly lady behind us caught his eye.
“Where did you get your beautiful blonde curls?”
He instantly replied, “From God.”
Proud Mama moment!
Curls from God
Now that my boy is a teen things have changed. I am annoying. I am so not cool anymore. I am a helicopter. The eye roll has become as dominant in his interaction with me as the word “like.” Its all good, though.
Our roles change.
I have morphed from the center of his universe to a tornado. And I know that as he grows, our relationship will continue to morph and continue to change in many ways. Most of which I hope to be delightful.
My relationship with my mother has too, changed over the years. She was my everything as a child. She was my friend as a teenager. We shopped and had our nails done and lunched. She was career counselor after I graduated. Then she took care of my baby when I worked.
Each day I got a note from the day’s events. Elmo was BIG back then!
When she had a devastating and debilitating stroke 11 years ago, the tables turned. I took care of her.
I visited her thrice a day for the three months she was in the hospital. I fed her and dressed her and put on her makeup and did her hair when she was immobilized and could not speak. It is so important to look and feel your best when your rehab for the day is getting into a wheelchair.
It was an enormous role reversal.
She became dependant. I became the nurturer.
Looking back I would not change it. EVER.
She is stubborn and opinionated (the apple does not fall far from the tree.) She has spunk and refuses to leave her home despite my father’s death and despite that she is patently disabled.
In light of recent life events, including reuniting with my long-lost cousin, Laura, hearing the other side of the story about our abuse and going to the police, there has been a predictable crack in my relationship with my mother.
It is a huge gaping fault much like the aftermath of an earthquake.
I am so, so angry. I am intensely hurt.
Mom is loving and kind. She is smart and generous and funny. She took care of me. She loves me.
I struggle so.
There is a place that I am trying so hard to reach where I can reconcile the past and my mom’s role in it. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done. It is perhaps more difficult than the aftermath of my sexual abuse and certainly more difficult than reporting her father, my abuser, to the police 35 years later.
It is heart wrenching, and I am torn. We all have hurts. We all have emotions and sensitivity. Once we are burned, it can be hard to stick your hand in the flame again.
So, people cope with their sexual abuse in different ways. When I was disbelieved after reporting my sexual abuse to my parents and uncle I had to survive. I mirrored their behavior. I pretended that it did not happen. I told my story in that kitchen. No one listened to my story.
(For clarification, please read my first blog post, “Before He Wrote it Down,”)
BUT my story, as much as I tried to stuff it down as far into my soul as possible, has told itself over and over again in my decisions, in my choices and in how I have lived.
Ok so here is a twist. Taking it one step further, people cope with OTHERS sexual abuse in different ways, too.
I applaud some. I shake my head at others. But I can’t judge. No one can judge. That is not our humanly job.
Although she is getting help for the first time in her life and says that she believes me, the jury is still out. But at 76 years old, I am grateful that she is a least trying.
My brother is brilliant and has offered great insight. He has provided guidance. He asks if I want to have a relationship with her? If so, that is the FIRST thing I need to decide. If so, and only IF SO, I need to determine if I can forgive. If I choose to forgive, I must do just that -all in-no takebacks no exclusions.
I am human. I am so very hurt.
I look at my mom. I can only imagine what happened to her as a child. She has coped differently. I suspect that she did the “stuffing down into the soul” trick. And it worked for her. But it did not work for me.
Herein lies the problem.
So on this mother’s day I have made a decision. I have decided to forgive my mom.
Forgiveness has many faces. Forgiveness can be as easy breezy as a fist punch and a pat on the back. Forgiveness can happen over years laying on that black leather couch. Forgiveness can just be a decision.
Forgiveness, in this matter, is not releasing it, accepting that what happened can be dismissed or saying “It’s ok.”
In a billion, gazillion years, it will never be “OK” with the past but I choose to move forward. I have decided that my grandfather had my past but will never have my future. No flipping way.
I cannot change the past, but I can change the future.
I cannot judge, but I can love
I cannot undo it, but I can move on and accept her frailties and shortcomings.
Although I cannot say that it will ever be the same (how could it be) I will try.
There is an abundant amount of love in this world. We just need to let it in.
Happy Mother’s Day.