Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Blog

Here it is Mother's Day. For the first time in my life neither of my mother-figures is around to acknowledge directly. My mother passed on a couple of months back, and both my grandmothers are gone as well. I've always been close to my mothers-in-law as well. They have generally welcomed me with open arms. My first wife's mother, Laverne, is a very sweet lady, and still living, though I really haven't had much contact with her in a long time. Mami, my second wife's mother, literally adopted me into the family, calling me "son" at every opportunity. She passed as well several years ago. I have only met Cat Dancing's mother once, she tends to be a bit reclusive. She lives with another daughter in Fort Worth, but we haven't been in contact with her for awhile for various reasons. 

I find myself, then, to be a bit motherless this year.

I've always had a very conflicted relationship with the two women in closest "mother" proximity to me. My biological mother, Doris, gave me up when I was four. Intellectually I can appreciate the pressure she was under to let me go. It can't have been easy. Her marriage had broken up, she had two young kids, and no job. I say I understand intellectually, but emotionally I have always had a very hard time with it. 
I never got close to Momma. We shared a lot of traits. I got my love of books from her. I was only allowed to visit her a couple of times a year. It was on one of those visits in New Mexico that she took me on my first visit to a library. I was amazed at all the books that were free to read. I never really lived with her except for a year or so just recently. She needed a place to live, and I was living alone, I got her to move in. Ultimately, when I married Cat, I let Momma have my home until she got into subsidized housing. She lived there until she passed on this year. 
I feel bad about feeling distant from her, but she never actually raised me. My brother Steve actually returned to her at age 8 and lived with her, her second husband, and their two kids. So, he was there, and my half siblings, Tim and Laura, were raised there. 
I admit I felt some envy that they, and my eventual nieces and nephews, got all of the attention I felt I should have gotten. My mother died in January, 2011. 
I know she always regretted the breach between us, but I suppose I could never bring myself to forgive and forget.

My paternal grandmother, Mildred, or Mom, had her own demons. We all lived with them constantly. She herself  was the product of a dysfunctional home. Mom's mother died when Mom was born. Her father remarried and fathered a son. Mom's stepmother tried to completely shut her out and treated her cruelly. She ended up moving away to live with her aunt and uncle at the age of 10, I believe. 
I'll never know exactly why she was so determined to take on two small grandchildren to raise. She never let us forget that we were her "cross to bear". She let everyone know that it was her Christian duty to take us in when "nobody wanted us." I'd heard her tell friends and relatives about it many times during my life.
I've never understood why she had such an animosity toward my mother. I know there were many times she refused to let Momma visit us, and she made it difficult when we did get to see her. Even to a small child it was very obvious how she felt and the various ways she tried to manipulate us against Momma. Mom never gave me the same story twice about what happened in those early days. She offered several excuses over the years for her treatment of my mother, but none I ever heard had any substance in fact.
I'm fairly certain that her manipulations over the years did in fact have a direct effect on how I viewed my mother, but, at the same time, those same sorts of things served to drive me away from Mom as well. I just stopped believing anything she said. 
Mom died in 2009 at the age of 98, just a few months after my grandfather died at 100. She had suffered with dementia for several years before she died, and she had antagonized many friends and relatives before that.
I'd always received more unconditional love and support from mothers-in-law, than I ever had from Mom.
Through some counseling and Avatar I've been reaching some peace with all of that. I've been working with my issues of abandonment. It is no longer such a sore point as it was. I even understand what drove them both to do the things they did, somewhat. It just remains a fact of my life.
My love and appreciation go out to all those mothers out there who are doing, or did, your best to raise your kids. Yes, to Mom and Momma too.
Happy Mother's Day

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