Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Missing a Mother

Hello Lovely Ladies,

Yesterday this article by Rebecca Walker (author/feminist Alice Walker's daughter) was posted on LL. Though I will not criticize the article, I will talk about my experience.

My mother and I have always had a strained relationship. When I was younger I resented the fact that she didn’t raise me and “left” me to my father’s parents. Looking back I have very few memories of my mother and the ones I have are not that great. Missed performances. Spankings. No hugs. No, “I Love You.” As I got older my friends would very often here me say “I hate my mother.” And I truly felt that way.

I always wished she was the mother that my best friend had. The one who always came to support her at her shows or games. The one who would make a day of shopping and eating. The one who you could talk about anything and everything with. Or even, the one who you lived with. My mother lived 5 blocks away from me but I would only see her about every other weekend. Her family lived a few buildings away so when I became older I would often stay with my grandmother and aunt. I was the only one of my friends who didn’t live with her mother, which was very weird to me.

At some point in my life I tried to “build” a relationship with her but it would always end with me crying to my grandmother. In my early twenties, I really sat down and thought about our relationship and why we couldn’t seem to have that bond. I would ask my family about her and came up with some interesting facts and theories.

My mother had me when she was 17 years old. My dad was 20. My maternal grandmother stopped caring for my mother and her siblings when they turned 13 or so. My mother literally had to raise herself. She had many jobs, some legal others not so legal, yet she still found a way to graduate high school. My mother regularly sent my grandmother money to help me and she would buy my clothes for very season. Having a child at that age is hard to fathom.

After much thought and crying and yelling with myself, I forgave my mother. I didn’t do it just for her, I did if for myself. I could no longer hold so much anger in me. It wasn’t going to change things. Oddly enough, a few years back my mother apologized to me for not being there and not being the best mother she could have been. I told her “but you were, you gave me to the best mother I could have had, my grandmother.” My grandmother raised me to be a wonderful woman, if I can toot my own horn.

Now I’m not saying that my mother and I have tea and crumpets on Sunday; but we can appreciate our differences. We can speak in a normal respectful tone. And we know when to back off and give each other space. Since my grandmother has past, my mother has been truly supportive of my pregnancy. She has even started buying the baby clothes.

My major point is; mother/daughter bonds are important, vital even. We all need a mother figure in our lives whether it is our own, our grandmother, our aunt, or our neighbor. Our experiences teach us so much as well as prepare us for our future. Now I also know the type of relationship I hope to have with my child. We aren’t going to agree on everything but I will always be there to listen and show my support and love. Thank you mommy!