Thursday, September 13, 2012

Not All Mothers Are Created Alike

Not all mothers are created alike.  No, no, they simply are not. 

You have heard the phrase, "Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a daddy."  The same rings true for mothers.  Sure, mothers give birth to us all....but a laborous trip down the birth canal does not qualify someone as a Momma.

All of us Mommas have our quirks, our habits, and our comforting ways of soothing even the worst of boo-boos or the scariest of nightmares.  Some of us discipline with the master of a pursed-up face in the STARE of DEATH; whereas, some of us chide our littles and get right back to what we were doing (while the littles get away with mischief and mayhem).

Most of us will tell you we learned our "tricks of the trade" from our mothers before us.  Not me.  Instead, I learned precisely what I did not want to be as a Momma.  Yes, you read that right.  My mother taught me invaluable lessons;  lessons of what I would NOT do in my children's lives - EVER.

Because this is not my memoir, I will spare you many of the details from my young life.  However, as I roll into the latter half of my thirties, I have come to realize that it is really okay if you do not have a good Momma.  Sure, I long for a relationship with my Mother; a relationship between mother and daughter than many of my peers have in place.  I want a Momma to call with good news, or bad....I want to share my parenting strifes with one who has been there before me.....I want someone to remind me I am her child and that everything will be alright.  However, what I want and what I have are not in alignment and simply not meant to be.  That is OKAY.

You see, despite being beaten with a wooden Dr. Scholl sandal (circa 1980) until bloodied and welted; I loved my Mother deeply.  Despite being the subject of her near-manic rages and having Club brand cast iron pots thrown at my cowering little body, this was MY Mother.  Wasn't I supposed to love her unconditionally? 
The mental illness of my Mother displayed itself in various forms of anger - on me, because I was there and I was a powerless child.  Countless times, I felt the wrath of 1/2" wooden dowels (she learned they did not break as easily as the weaker kitchen wooden spoons) across my limbs.  On many occasions, I felt the immense sting of skin on skin from her large hand connecting with my backside, or even the backhanded knuckles making their mark on my face. 
Contrary to what you may be assuming, I was a good child - I was obedient, I was a great student earning praise and top honors, and I was outgoing and friendly.  I hid the welts, the bruises and the emotional pain of my Mother's misplaced anger.  Only ONCE was my mother questioned for her behavior towards me; as I had blood on my tee-ball uniform.  Social services was brought in, upon which my mother apologized and cried for hurting me - saying simply that she did not realize she hit me so hard.  I was then punished and sent to bed without dinner; why on earth would I answer a question from an inquring adult as to the why I had blood on my shirt?

I vividly recall  my little brain telling myself back then -  I would never, ever, ever, ever hit my child.  NEVER.  I would not subject any of my children to the fear, the pain and the shame that goes along with your Mother hitting you.  NEVER.
Now, as a mother of three, I will not lie - I have had THOSE moments; those rare moments where in disciplining my child(ren) -  the only thing I felt was an intense, burning desire to rip my child's face off!  What Momma has NOT felt that fleeting feeling of  losing control?  Who hasn't had that momentarily lapse in rational judgment when a stubborn child is pushing every button?  Guess what?  I refrained.  Yes, I did.  I did NOT hit my child.  I did not want to be my Mother.

As I entered adulthood, I still loved my mother.  I somehow believed that we should always respect our elders; and because they are not perfect, we should still provide them with care.  With a two and a half year old and a one week old nursing newborn, I traveled to my Mother's house daily after she had a quadruple by-pass surgery.  I am a Momma; the ability to tend to a high-energy toddler and a brand new baby, all while caring for my Mother was somewhat of a feat, but not impossible. 
After this surgery, my Mother became a different person!  We had a good two years with as normal a relationship as we would ever have.  Shortly thereafter, my father became severly ill and with that, my Mother's mental illness intensified and re-emerged with it's head uglier than ever.  My Mother did not like competing with my father for attention.  Somehow, I managed to have them move into my home, with my young family - as I still believed it was my duty to care for my elderly parents and I loved them both.  I only wished for them to live out their golden years and be grandparents to my children.

Flash forward four years and I was suddenly fighting for MY life.  For those of you who know me, I was also pregnant with my third child.  In all of the chaos and the fear of death flashing before my eyes, my mother still needed attention; a lot of it.  She somehow could not dig deep and be MY Mother, at the very moment when I needed my Mother most.  At first, I was crushed.  How could my own Mother not step up and be a Mother in MY time of need?  I needed her most, right now this moment!  Then, I was angry.  I was quite possibly the most murderous I have ever felt in my entire life.  However, I awakened.....and I realized that not all of  us are treated equally and given the parents we hope for.  Sometimes, we just do not have the parents we need during our times of tribulation.  I did not have a Momma.

Sadly, I do not feel love for the woman who calls herself my Mother.  I am okay with that.  We have a relationship enough so that my children can retain their relationships with their grandmother.  Yes, she gave birth to me.  Yes, she is my Mother.  Yes, I have some better memories of her.  However, after much guilt and after harboring many bad feelings about doing the "right" thing by her - I have learned that I will never change her.  I can only change ME and how I cope.  I do not have to have a relationship with her simply because she is my Mother; especially when it is not healthy for me.

I have taken many mental notes out of my life experiences, and I use every one of these invaluable tools to make myself the best possible Momma to MY children. 

With that, I promise my children that: 
  • I will be there for them in ALL of their times of need.
  • I will hug and kiss their boo-boos from now in their childhood to that when they are adults on their own. 
  • I will be that voice of reason. 
  • I will be the pushover when they bat their eyelashes at me. 
  • I will love them unconditionally and despite possible disappointments to come, I will reassure them they are mine and I will help them move forward.
  • I will love them with a passion that runs so firmly and deeply embedded into my very core and within every single cell of my body. 
After all, I am their Momma. 



  1. You're brave to write this truth. As I find myself becoming (and sounding) more and more like my mother as my kids get older and I increasingly grateful that she was and continues to be there for me. And, sadly, I rarely have to look far to find that I am not necessarily among the majority. Your children are a lucky bunch!

  2. This was so hard to read. I relate all too well to this. I too use my mother as an example of what not to do. If I'm ever in a jam I ask myself what she would do then I do the exact opposite. I'm 41 and I still wish I had a mom I could call when like now my ear is broken and hurts, or when like the past 18 months I am confused about my marriage. Or just to go have coffee with and talk about a movie or book. I wish my mother hadn't been abusive and I wish she had changed rather than walk away from me. I hope my kids never feel like this.