Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Maligning the Mother

Mothers are the grist for the lifetime mill. Everything begins with Mother. Mother is the source of your life, then the source of your joy. Just look at any baby cooing at her Mother, or any toddler’s face lighting up when Mother comes into the room.

For those precious years, we Mothers are on the pedestal, in the great love affair between Mother and child, and then, floof, our child becomes an adult and we are off the pedestal and into the frying pan of life’s impossible people to deal with.

Is our love that suffocating or awful? Why is it that Mothers morph into the monster, and become the source of our formerly adoring, adult child’s ennui?

Why is it that a friend can give you advice and you can “hear” it, but if your Mother gives you the same advice, you discount it, or, it drives you crazy?

Think of the Mother in literature and the Mother in movies. The larger than life “Mommie Dearest.” The eye rolling, the children suffering their Mother, the Mother as the cause of all root problems. “The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood” was all about the daughter’s inability to live her own authentic life due to a misunderstood conflict in her mother-daughter relationship. In Sean Wilsey’s book, “Oh the Glory of It All” he writes, “When describing my Mother it is impossible to overstate her grandeur, her haughtiness, her generosity, her old Hollywood star power, her immaturity…”

We mothers are quite powerful, it seems. Perhaps it would be better to be… less powerful?

But you are powerful when you are raising your child. And therein lies the problem. You keep your children alive, clean, fed, rested, educated. I’m beginning to think the stamp of that powerful presence you had in their lives always has the power to wound in the most unsuspected ways.

No one wants to be the cause of eye rolling. I certainly don’t want to be the sturm and drang Mother. The demanding Mother. The guilt trip Mother. The needy Mother. The impossible Mother. The loud Mother. The exhausting Mother.

But I’m beginning to think it is part of the Mother “lode.” The power that you once had lingers in the raise of an eyebrow, in a tone of voice. Perhaps, sadly, it helps pave the way for the ultimate separation.

In the meantime, I vow to remain cheerful, light, receptive. That’s what an adult child wants, right? Now that my Mother is gone, I understand, it is certainly how she treated me.

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