Sunday is Mother’s Day here in the U.S. I am not only a daughter but a mother. This year, this day is fraught with angst for me. On the one hand, I am thrilled that I will be celebrating with all of my children for the first time in (and probably the last time for) years, but I am also coming to grips with what my mother allowed to happen to me. And I am scared. And sad.
On one episode of Grey’s Anatomy (my favorite show), a young girl is involved in a boating accident in which the propeller cut off her arms and one leg. Her arms were recovered and reattached, but while in the hospital, she refused to allow her mother to be contacted. She cites what her mother always told her, that she had been “made from scratch”. As a mother, I was responsible for my children throughout gestation and while growing up. I made them all “from scratch”. I had the ability to form them as I wanted them to be, I was responsible for protecting them from danger, I molded them to be the wonderful people they are today. Of course this was all done with the help of my beloved husband. But I did make them “from scratch” and it was a hell of a lot of work. So why on earth would I do anything or allow anything to jeopardize their lives? Why would I put up with anything that would harm them?
My mother also made me “from scratch”. With my father, I was conceived, she bore me, she raised me, yet she allowed my stepfather to physically, emotionally and sexually abuse me once they were married. N.K. Jemisin said, “There is no greater warrior than a mother protecting her child.” Naturalists can share with you thousands of stories about animal mothers doing incredible things to save their children from harm. I know the wrath I felt when my children were hurt by others, even innocently, as one child hurting another on the playground. So why, why, WHY, did my mother not protect me?
Therapy is forcing me to ask this question, again and again and again. I keep thinking, “What did I do, what mistake did I make, that my mother did not feel compelled to protect me from harm?” My rational self knows that it was nothing I did, but rather, that which she did not do, but my inner child, wounded, hurting still, still asks, “What did I do?”
I came across this prayer tonight when searching for prayers for a mother. It came up under the heading of prayers for a deceased mother. It got me thinking . . .
O God, who hast commanded us to honor our father and our mother; in Thy mercy have pity on the soul of my mother, and forgive her her trespasses; and make me to see her again in the joy of everlasting brightness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Maybe I need to think of my mother as dead. Not literally of course, but I think I need to mentally bury the image of what I think my mother should have been. what she should have done. She is not “dead to me” as we think of when we cut off all ties and repudiate someone in our family, but perhaps I need to acknowledge that my idea of what my mother should have been is no longer alive. The “dream mom” I envisioned not only is not alive, she was never born. Maybe if I let the dream go, I can better come to grips with my reality.
I think my idea of “mother” died a long time ago, when I was about eleven.