Tuesday, November 10
Today I’m taking my Mom to lunch. Not just because she and I share a deep love for everything on the Indian buffet, but also, so that I can begin interviewing her about her childhood and her mother.
I think I might want to write about it, sometime, in some way.
This work of Self that I have been engaged in since late August, along with this on-going practice of Thanksgiving has lead me to recognize my two principle identies: My Inner-Child and My Devoted-Mother.
Little Amanda is the one who loves to be on stage, to write these posts, to watch too much TV, and hang out with her family and friends for hours on end at any given game night or casual get-together.
She’s also the one who always said, “yes,” (regardless of the consequences) to any request at work, living in constant fear that failure to comply and produce would reveal that she, in fact, was merely silly, stupid, and completely unqualified.
Mother Amanda is deeply concerned (and now) connected. She has always (even before treatment) been acutely aware of others. How they feel. What they need. How she can be of service. She is the one who has always felt joy in feeding those she loves – be it with Sunday Supper or an open ear or gentle embrace during a mid-week check-in.
She is the one who was strong enough to find peace for her family in the NICU – and she’s also the one (prior to getting help) who tore into herself with fear and guilt, accusing her for being the reason her son required intensive care upon birth in the first place.
Learning to recognize when My Child and My Mother come out has been wildly helpful in gaining the love, understanding, and patience required to move further and further away from my Depression and Anxiety.
And all of this investigation has brought me even closer to my actual Mom, Deb, who’s suffered much greater trauma than I ever have.
What I’ve always known, but never truly been able to understand until now, is that my Mom has never had a mother.
Her Child has never spent a single day, a single moment, in the deep and restorative power of her mother’s embrace. She’s never been held. Not really. Not in the way that could make her believe the entire world could crumble around her, but as long as she stayed in her mother’s arms all would be fine – good, and safe, and fine.
She’s never been the center of anyone’s world – the way every child deserves to be the center of her mother’s world.
The last time she talked to her mother, when she 19 (still a baby – a married, baby – but a baby nonetheless), her mother said:
“This can’t be my daughter. I don’t have a daughter.”
And then, she hung up.
My Mom – my beautiful, loving, strong, complicated, passionate – Mom, tells me this at lunch and my heart breaks all over my chicken curry and jasmine rice. It makes me ache – not just for my Mom – but for her’s, too. For that grandmother I’ve never met and for the mother she never found the strength to be.
She missed it. And I don’t know all the reasons or the full story, but what I am sure of, is that there cannot possibly be any greater pain than missing this gift of being a Mom. Of being and staying connected to your child.
The Child in me hated my completely absentee grandmother for a very long time – mostly out of misguided loyalty to my Mom. But, the Mother in me now is just filled with sadness.
I am so sad that she didn’t have the means to ask for the kind of help she so clearly needed.
I am so sad that no other mothers around her could see what was going on and had the tools and the courage to offer real support – free of judgement or obligation.
I am so sad that she missed seeing her daughter become the Mother she didn’t even know how to wish to be.
But, more than my sadness, I am overwhelmed by admiration.
Because the truth is, a child without a mother, will ALWAYS be a child without a mother. But, she may still turn into a mother with a child. And, in my Mom’s case, a mother with four of them. All girls. All possible (and two already definite) Mothers.
And to be a Mom – a true and present Mom – while all the while also being a Child who will NEVER be able to fully learn by example (by feeling and touch and emotional memory) – that is more than amazing…
For the very first time in my life I can truly see my Mom for what she is: a miracle.
So, yes, without question, without even a thought, My Child, My Mother, My everything will treat my Mom to lunch and conversation on this day, and on any other day she wants.