Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother love

I generally like the concept of Mother's Day. But on a personal level, I find it painful and sad.

I had a dream about my mom last night, one I can't remember. It wasn't a happy or a sad thing. I just know she was there, probably because she's been on my mind.

My mom and I looked a lot alike. Not as much when I was a teenager, when my face was rounder and I resembled my dad more, but very much so now, now that I'm a little older and my baby face is starting to age. Yes, I still have a baby face at 28. Only a couple years ago I was still being carded for lottery tickets.

But as the years go by, more and more I see my mother's face when I look in the mirror or see photos of myself and it's a shock. But it's not a bad thing, just an emotional jolt from time to time. And then I feel good. It's hard to be too critical of my facial features when they remind me of someone I love. It's not exactly a feeling of being beautiful, so much as it's a fondness and affection for the little quirks in my nose that my mom had.

I think she had a little more grace than I do. She was a kook in her own subtle way, but she was more ladylike, more likeable to more people. She was gentle and firm in her opinions, but she listened. She was gullible and a salesperson's dream. She was sometimes naive and ideological, but a strong feminist as well. She knew how to stick to her guns. She was a poor cook, didn't stress about housework, but my brother and I had all the attention from her that we could want. She didn't miss games and recitals. She made me pursue physical activity (Against my nature) and didn't care how well I did, so long as I did it.

She was often blunt with me when I fell short, and warm when I made her proud. She had high expectations, but not so high I couldn't make her happy. The thing that drove her the most crazy about me was my critical words for things I didn't like and my lack of motivation. Though I was very motivated to articulate when I didn't like something.

My mother and I didn't have a friendship. She was the parent. She never lost her temper with me if I wanted to talk to her about serious things, though she got very embarrassed about sexual matters and generally seemed shy and juvenile about them, her tone growing less mature and assured when questioning if I needed a bra, after having let me go many months too long without one, uncertain how to broach the issue.

But when it came to body images and the media, eating disorders, abusive relationships, and many other problems facing women, she had confidence and wisdom and shared her ideas about those things with me often, usually in her bed. Whenever I saw her reading when I was a teenager, I'd crawl into bed with her and talk. It was the sort of dick move teens pull when seeing attention diverted elsewhere from themselves. But she made herself available, eyes always on her book, so I could continue to feel like I was interrupting her while pouring my heart out.

I miss her. I regret a lot of things. Mostly, I wish I could have come of age when she was alive. I could have gotten to know the woman behind the mother. I never reached a point in my life where I could see her through an adult lens and see who she really was. I only saw her as the dependent I was at the time, with my needs and my wants and all my projections of who I thought she was based on my mood that day and whether or not I had gotten my way.

16-year-olds are capable of loving deeply, but they lack the maturity and depth to love selflessly enough to really appreciate another person. I lost my mother during the most selfish era of my life and I never got the chance to grow out of it and be the sort of daughter I wish I could be to her now. I like to think we'd talk often and I be able to ask her all kinds of things about her life. There are a lot of blanks.

All I've got now is my life to live, hopefully in a way she'd be proud of. In the absence of a living mother, this is the best I can do.

Mother's Day hasn't really gotten any easier, to be honest. But that's just because I love my mom and she's gone. There's some comfort in that. Love sometimes hurts.

1 comment:

  1. Happened to come across your blog and I enjoy reading your posts- have a great upcoming week!