Saturday, July 02, 2005

I Remember Mama
At one of the large quilt shows in the US, there's a special exhibit dedicated to the memories of mammas. Each year there's a different focus for the memories and, I believe, this is the last year for the exhibits. Of course, it prompted me to think about my mama, and see if there was a quilt in there someplace. There was not.
I feel very conflicted about my mama. She wasn't a horrible Mom, but she did have her moments. I WANT to say nice things about her. I want to feel she was a good mom. I know there were some good moments in there along the way, somewhere, but none seem to come to mind. Instead, all I seem to remember is her fear.
There was a time when I asked her why she married my Dad. I was a late child and I never saw them hug or kiss. They argued quite often and didn't seem to have anything in common. I was afraid that was what happened to all marriages after time. I discovered that she married him because he was handsome. I sighed in relief, because there was so much more than my DH's attractiveness I loved about him.
She told me she got physically ill on her first day of school because she was afraid she wouldn't be a good enough student. I realized that I was NOT like my mother at all. I am not afraid of life like she seemed to be. Again, I sigh in relief.
So, she was a good mom in many ways. She was there for us. She was involved and moral. She was kind-hearted and generous and thrifty. She worked hard for everything we had and she taught us how to work as well. She was down-to-earth and not given to adventures or dreams.
The damage she did to us was to not give us the confidence to face the world with pride in our accomplishments. Her phrase would be, "Don't toot your own horn. If you do a good job, people will notice." But, people don't notice and what she left us with is an inability to accept compliments and difficulty saying what we have done and what we are capable of doing. Not great during job interviews.
I spent quite a lot of my life trying not to listen to her. I don't want to be afraid like she was.
But, some of it rubs off, no matter how hard you try. It's difficult for me not to say something terrible to my daughter who wants to be a "singer/actress/star". It's probably a phase she's going through, but chances are, she won't be a star. So, instead of saying something like, "but you can't sing in tune", I talk about how many great singers there are that have not been discovered. It's just luck that gets them to the top. It's still not a ringing endorsement. I can't seem to be THAT positive.
It's like my Mother is Eyore from Winnie the Pooh fame. He said, "Thanks for noticing me". And she seemed to be like that as well. I don't want to sound like that. I don't want to be that negative, but bits and pieces come pouring out of my mouth before I know it.
My mom died this year. It didn't come as a great shock and I was mentally prepared for it. I don't have much grief connected to her passing. I think I should, but I don't. I think partly because I, intellectually, can see that it was for the best. There was no cure, her quality of life wasn't great, and she was ready to go.
I had a moment of panic when I realized I was parentless now. it was a childish response. I don't have an adult to turn to and make it all better. No safety net. I had to be grown up now.
But, then I realized I didn't look to her for help any longer. I was grown-up.
I am very lucky to have a husband whose mother didn't squash dreams. I am very lucky that he is a dreamer and funny. He is smart and entertaining. I am more in love with him now than I was when I worried about marrying him and falling out of love later. The later is now.


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