One thing about humans that is true for everyone is that we all have a mom. That’s not to say that we were all mothered, or that you were raised by your mom, but we all most definitely were born from a woman who became a mother upon delivering you to the world.
It wasn’t until I became a mother and went through my own hardships that I could understand the kind of mother I grew up with. My mom didn’t have friends (by choice), in fact, I can only recall a few times in my childhood anyone coming over to our house to spend time with her. She didn’t attend any school functions, she didn’t ask me about my homework, she didn’t throw parties for my birthday, she really didn’t like anyone but our family to come into our home, so I spent most of my time away from home. My mom rarely said “I love you”, or hugged me, or asked me what I was up to. I compared her to other moms a lot, it was confusing to know if I was loved according to how other children were with their mothers. I couldn’t see it then, I couldn’t see where the love was.
You might be thinking I had a shitty mom based off of societal norms that have been created for mothers. There seems to be an unspoken, assumed and exhaustless, super hero expectation for what makes a good mother. I’ve been a mother for 12 years now and the feeling that I am not enough of a mother has never subsided.
My mom wasn’t a societal norm, nor did she wish or try to be. When all the ladies in the 80’s had big hair and pop rock make-up, my mom swore off hairspray and curling irons and kept her face bare most of the time. She made almost all of her own clothes in deep earth tones accented with just a bit of color in the buttons or the stitches. She used the remnants of the fabrics to make mini-me culottes and little tops that buttoned in the back. I remember being disappointed that they were not made with trendy hot pink and neon colors of the time, but also proud to say my mom made my clothes. She never stopped teaching herself a new skill, she was always making something, always trying to be of value in the way that she knew how. My mom is an artist. The sounds of paint brushes on canvas, knitting needles clacking softly against each other with amazing speed, the diligent churn of a sewing machine was white noise and comfort in my memories. She would never be a career woman, she would never hold a job for more than a couple of years, it exhausted her spirit to be confined to someone else’s schedule and it would push her into deep depression when it was necessary.
When my mother worked my brother and I were left alone. We would advantageously invite all of our friends to meander through our home to look at all my mom’s artwork. In our house were oil paintings of me and my brother, several drawing pads filled with charcoal drawings of us as babies, crocheted blankets and tablecloths decorated our furniture, and so much more. We subconsciously knew this was where her love was and we proudly wanted to show people what she was capable of. When she would find out that we did this she would become angry and annoyed at us, but somewhere in her face I sensed she appreciated it, too.
For years and years I wished my mom to have friends, to be in love, to show her art. I wished for her to be different until finally I realized how much my wishing for her to be different must have hurt her. The truth is, she has always been the same, she has never changed from this woman, nothing was ever taken from me in this regard.
So I love my mom, I love her for who she is and I see her love everywhere, in her art, in my art, in my kids art, in my independence, in my guts.
I see you, Mama.