You Only Have One Mother
"You only have one mother."
This stops me in my tracks, not literally, or there would have been a pile-up on the Edens, the 'Super Highway' to Wisconsin.
But I'm thinking, What does she mean by this?
Not hard to figure out, of course, that she's saying that my attention is divided, for sure, and she doesn't get enough of it, and when it comes to Who's Yo' Mama, the answer's quite obvious. She is. And I know it's hard, at the end of the day, to make a call and say, How's it going? but obviously, it should be an every day thing.
INSANE, I know you're thinking. ENMESHED, must be.
But you're wrong. It isn't insane, it's not enmeshed, and it isn't even coming from her. We're talking about an octogenarian. And ours is a relatively close family, although we're not on each other like white on rice, don't know one another's every step, and no, I don't call every day.
The idea is that they're special.
On Mori Therapy, Isabelle recycles an older post (she and I go way back) from 2007 about her father, a guy she adored, and how she wishes she could pick up the phone and say hi, but it's impossible at this point. Not to be maudlin. That's what grieving, remembering, is all about, feeling terrible that we can't just pick up the phone. Making the call is a big theme on this blog, you may already know. The applications are enumerable.
We can't all do that, dial the number. Not all the mom's are around. And some women, people who might have been moms but maybe changed it around, opted out or gave a child away, they're thinking along those lines, too. They won't be getting the call, no Hallmark card.
And let's talk, some mothers drink too much, aren't or never were available, use(d) drugs. Or our daughters and sons do that, disappear into that world, turning the day into one of failure. And so many first degrees can't function for some other health related issue. Mothers Day can be a tough one.*
Every once in a while a person will come to see me in therapy and inevitably the past will come up. We talk about loss, and we talk family, for what else is there, really, that pulls at us, drives us as crazy, a no pain no gain sometimes, sometimes mostly pain, sometimes heavily weighted on the gain. At some point it will come out that the narrator has between 3 to 5 siblings (more or less) and that nobody is taking care of mom or dad. In this case mom or dad are generally supremely independent, eschew attention, but are getting older, falling, forgetting, not eating as much or anything, not getting around anymore. And nobody comes over, nobody checks in. In fact, everyone has moved away from the home town.
And I'll suggest, "Well you know, we have these things, they're called telephones. You should arrange it so that at least one person calls every day. You're going to want to know if she isn't able to answer. You know?"
That's pretty much all I wanted to say on this post, that and to tell all of you mothers, especially those who have special needs children, that you're doing an unbelievable job. What's that they say? Half the job of life is just showing up, and anyone reading this blog is doing that and more.
But a quick story and better even, a decent one-liner, credit to my only mother to lighten the mood:
We're at this quasi-engagement party for my nephew, a Meet The New Family get-together, and Mom is standing a long time, trying to be sociable. I feel she's standing too long because I feel I'm standing too long, and if I'm tired, she must be tired. Our boundaries are fine, thanks.
Anyway, I suggest that we sit and she says she's good, she's not ready to sit down. We're talking to another guest, both riveted, liking this new person. I straighten up a little, throw back my shoulders to get comfortable, Mom looks up. She's looking at me, sizing me up.
She says to our new friend,
"You know, I used to be as tall as my daughter, but now I go to the doctor to find that I'm a full five inches shorter than I used to be!"
Neither of us knows exactly how to respond; we sort of smile half smiles.
Then she goes for the punchline.
"But I don't feel that way! Not at all! When I think of myself, I'm five-foot seven!"
She's got that glint in her eye, exceedingly pleased that her brain, the real person in there, can fool that other ego, her body.
Boy I hope I get that patch of DNA.
*You can read what I wrote about Mothers Day in dysfunctional families on The Second Road.