The Influence of Mothers and How Mother’s Day Is A Sham
Maybe I’m alone in this but Mother’s Day irritates the shit out of me. I understand that many women may feel a lack of appreciation from their families. Hell, I probably rant a couple of times a month about the location of the dishwasher and how it functions, so ya know.
Being A Parent Is Inherently Thankless, And That’s Okay.
I recently had the incredible pleasure of meeting and hanging with poet Jovan Mays at the Northern Colorado Writers Conference. He closed the conference with a story about his grandmother.
She encouraged and inspired his poetry with incredible vision. The entire room felt their hearts pierced by her generosity and Jovan’s loss at her passing.
Ugly Crying Abounded.
Though transfixed, I didn’t feel the same nostalgia for either my grandmother or my mother. It did, however, get me to thinking about motherhood and my own offspring.
At dinner, Jovan noted I wasn’t a weeper. I explained that my grandmother was a hard woman. And while later in her life, I grew to understand her ways, her role had never been inspiring or supportive. And I’ve covered my mother a time or two.
Another writer and colleague, Jenny Sundstedt shared that her grandmother was also a hard woman. I felt relieved not to be the only one.
Some of it is generational, but much of it is the way the women in our lives carry their damage. My grandmother wasn’t what I would consider a good mother, and she raised a daughter who wasn’t capable of being a good mother either. It would have been impossible given the circumstances.
That generational damage threads its way through our family and ripples across all of our relationships or lack thereof. I’ve spent most of my life trying to nurture those extended ties with varying levels of response. We are, all of us, making our way through the world with our baggage.
How We Heal Or Don’t Heal Our Wounds Changes Our Path.
Ain’t no secret around here I’m not inclined to pretend those grinning family photos are the real deal. That perception, that determination always hovered beneath the surface, and when my deficiencies blew up in my face, I wielded that clarity like a vambrace. The truth anchored my process and guided me along a new path.
Parenthood is hard. Harder than anything I’ve ever attempted. And sometimes it sucks. Plain and simple. But that is the job. My children don’t owe me anything (well, I have mentioned a nice, high and tight pair of B cup breasts and a tummy tuck. The Beard wants a power washer, to each their own). I, on the other hand, owed them every opportunity to grow with support, confidence, and the belief they can depend on me if they need help.
When they were little, I wasn’t their friend. I tried to balance being scary with being fair. It isn’t easy to keep calm and firm when they’ve kicked their brother’s tooth out, ‘borrowed’ the car or skipped class to smoke a little weed. It takes incredible self control not to kill them after catching them hanging out their bedroom window with a bong.
Sure, I’d like a commune. This American Kick Em Out to Earn Their Way bullshit isn’t my idea of family. I dream of a place where the offspring and their others are living with us. I’d be happy with family dinner once a month. See how flexible I am?
Of course, it will be nice to have a clean kitchen for longer than a couple of hours. And what a refreshing idea to use the sofa as an actual sofa and not the world’s most expensive laundry basket. For now, they can clean their damn bathroom (I can acid bath that shit when they move out), but it’s my responsibility to offer assistance if they ask.
Whether my offspring take my advice or not is anyone’s bet. Odds are often low. That’s the job.
Maybe The Beard and I Should Have Raised Drones. Too Late Now.
I’ve tried to balance encouragement with common sense. After all, I’ve fucked up plenty in life but as we discover when kids are little sometimes they have to learn the stove is hot on their own. That is still true.
It’s not my job to keep them from making mistakes. It’s not my job to judge or hold them to standards I’ve only arrived at because I’ve made my own. My job is to keep my mouth shut and be there if the situation explodes.
I like to think we’ve given them the critical thinking skills and fortitude to fuck up on their own without imploding. And if they start to implode, well, they can call us.
Before 8 pm and after 7 am, to be clear. If they need something between those hours, they know to call the Beard. Because I love to get up at 1 am to pick up kids from the police station. Whatever happened to the holding tank? I’d like to know.
That said, these people, these human beings are creative, intelligent, witty, and frequently infuriating and while they are all of these things they are absolutely amazing.
Only Because We Didn’t Fuck Them Up. Mostly.
The only thing I need on any given day is to know they are living their best and most joyful life; however, that may manifest.
Oh, I’d love it if the coffee grounds were cleaned. And I’d like to keep at least one Bluetooth speaker without it walking off and while I’m at it who ate all of my fucking almond M&Ms?