Sunday, May 8, 2011

On Mothering

It is the day that supposedly mother's are honored. 

I may hate the Madison Ave aspect of the holidays for which we try to remember our loved ones.  Yet I like the push to think about another person and the relationship we have with them.  Maybe not to purchase a glitzy card or flowers, but they do indicate someone had thought about someone else.  A bare bones exhibit of love.

Many a messy kitchen provides a breakfast in bed for the mother's of my they used to do for me (sometimes).  Of course the children were the supposed creators of these wonders... my grandchildren for their moms.  I haven't heard all the details through the years, but I know dads are behind a lot of the creativity.  My grandson William is probably best at providing his mom's breakfast, since he's been taking cooking classes in high school.

My memories of my own 47 Mother's Days?  Loving the breakfasts that weren't perfect, with the smiles around me that graced the breakfasts when the kids were small; crying as my older sons had forgotten to call when they were living away from me; crying as they did call and I was so relieved to be remembered...  thrills at receiving many cards which were full of love... eating out with family and going home sated (yes, food is a form of caring) ... flowers that arrived at work where my friends thought I was such a queen to my kids and grands!

Mom and Dad, about 1970, Boston, MA

And what did I do as a child or young woman for my mom?  The usual...breakfasts (not in bed) and/or taking out to dinner, many cards and little gifts like perfume of her choice.  As a young mother I remember having my kids talk to her on the phone too, since we never lived in the same town (by design). There were sometimes visits when we lived within driving distance with the "grands."  My relatioinship with my mom was not always great...yet we observed the proper "social niceties".

Me in purple dress coming toward camera, Mom right behind in a blue dress I made for her, both of us wearing wigs, Tampa, early 70's

But mothering is special.  I found myself surprised that it was so much work.  I was daunted that I couldn't do it all, either with a spouse or without.  I feel there were definite areas I failed my sons...and I've cried with all of them about these failings.  I've forgiven myself, and hope they have been able to also...knowing I've done the best I could with my skills under sometimes extraordinary circumstances.  There were hours of conversations with each of them separately, thank heavens.  I doubt that I could have endured all three of them at the same time discussing my frailties.

I've been surprised by the deep blessings from my children that always give me such a wrench to my heart.  My sons have given me much more than they will ever know...the hugs and kisses that are the small representations of their deep and grounded connections to me.  I am honored to have been their mother, each of them.  I'm very proud of them as adult men.

My last visit with my mother was while she had dementia and was in a nursing facility.  I was so glad to hear "I know you, don't I?" from her as she sat in her wheel chair in an empty visiting area. I had to tell her my name, but wasn't sorry about it. 

Mom in wheelchair in late 90's

I had driven through a hurricane's trailing storms from Tampa to Houston, camping out in gale force winds on Galveston Island where I'd slept in the car for fear the tent would blow away...and had just a visit of an hour or so.  Not just the weather, and my financial situation, but other family members made the visit difficult.  Our short visit was not what I expected, but I was satisfied to say goodbye to her.   I am so glad I made the effort to go see her.   People say there are "closures" to relationships, and this was mine with my mother.

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