Today is Mother’s Day, and I would like to find gratitude for the woman who birthed me, coincidentally on Mother’s Day. I already shared on the last post what her birthing process was probably like. But how was she as a mom?
Well, for starters, she learned from her parents. Her mom preferred the sons and her dad preferred the daughters. I mean, it was an obvious preference on her parents’ part – with sons sent to closets by an enraged dad, and one daughter fled home to get away from her mother.
My mom wasn’t quite like that. But a lot of the time I can remember gritting her teeth when she responded to me. Even when I was older she’d criticize my choices and reactions to life. “Why are you so sensitive?” It was not a sympathetic shoulder, at all. She loved my husband and that may have swayed me into a marriage I wasn’t quite sure about. But to the day she died she preferred him over me. And her sons could do no wrong. But I heard it from my sisters, too, her constant criticism over our choices in life. I remember when I was pregnant with my youngest, her reaction was why? You already have one of each. She probably said the same thing to her sister, while she had six herself.
Mom was happiest doing community work, rather than being home with her kids. She loved her neighborhood gossip groups, her bridge card parties (we loved the leftovers) and she hated when dad’s family showed up unannounced and expected food. Dad’s family was conservative Christian, and she a Liberal Catholic. She also professed to loving family, to the point where she refused to move when Dad wanted that job in ABQ. But after he died, after I turned 18, she moved my two brothers and two sisters to PHX. Leaving her sister and her parents, her support team after his death, and me, behind. To this day all I’ve heard about that was she needed a change in scenery and was tired of people treating her like a third wheel. She felt guilty leaving me behind and kept trying to find ways to make me move there, but too late. I’d already felt not wanted and nothing could change that.
As my kids grew she spent little time at my house, saying she needed to be with her father, leading us into a rift of non-talking for over a year. But though she was never comfortable with her grandkids — even moved back to Green Bay from PHX when her other two daughters had their girls — my kids had good relationships with her, once they were grown. She opened her house to them to stay while they were going to college. Yes, my sons. Carrie was much too independent for that! Oh, see that? Continue the trend of preferring the boys.
I wish I could say I missed her. We did try to spend Mother’s Day and/or our birthdays together — hers was May 8 — after she moved back. I took her to Copenhagen and then Paris when Carrie was working in Denmark, but she was a drag about it, though she had insisted I owe her the trip. You see, when brother Marty was in Germany she insisted I act as her travel companion when she wanted to visit him. Monkey wrench – found out I was pregnant with Carrie just before we left. And that meant morning sickness everywhere, especially on the lurching EuroRail trains through 5 European countries. Marty got two weeks off and traveled with us. I wasn’t a total drag. I still have the bullfight poster I bought after Marty and I went to one. So maybe she dragged in Paris to pay me back. Talk about holding a grudge! She only hurt herself.
Anyway, the last good moment we had was as she was preparing to die. She was in her room, hiding, saying she couldn’t come out. And I told her that her daughter’s family was here from PHX to visit with her, and couldn’t she work up a few minutes to sit in a chair and visit? Have some last good memories of you? So she did.
She had a lot of spunk, Mom did. Not too many people would sell a house (that Dad built), rent a pop-up camper, and take four kids (youngest 7) to PHX in June. Yeah. June. Did I add she was also just a little crazy??
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