Sunday Morning ~ If We Only Knew
Ciipira acaje, amace ndi mwana. ~ The one who is nasty for others keeps being a child to his own mother.
~ Chewa proverb
May, 17, 2020
So last Sunday I told myself, “Do not look at Facebook, do not look at Facebook, do not look at Facebook…” a tool I appreciate in many ways but one that makes Mother’s Day like scab picking for me. When my kids were growing up their father made a splash out of Mother’s Day. This was long before I could share these images with the world. He’d buy me presents and put the kids names on them, give me many funny cards, breakfast in bed, and meals he prepared in a loving manner. I was appreciative of the intent but him cooking meant that: a) I had to eat it, and b) he spent most of the day making a huge mess in the kitchen and part of the evening cleaning part of it up. Monday, the roasting pans and piles of grunge in the sink corners were somehow neutral territory now that Mother’s Day was over. Erma Bombeck wrote: “Later, when you decide it would be easier to move to a new house rather than clean the kitchen…” a line that always came to mind the Monday after Mother’s Day. Those were quaint times, simple really, and I miss them, messy kitchen and all. My mother cooked and cleaned on Mother’s Day, but I’d make her cards and some crap gift she oohed and ahhed over, stifling a laugh now that I think of it. When I got older and had no money, I gave her a list of promises as a gift, written in floury loopy handwriting with hearts dotting the i’s. When we went through her papers when she was dying I found that list, so it must have meant something to her. I miss her, too.
After my husband left, so did any celebration of Mother’s Day. It was harsh. For many years afterward the kids all felt it was a Hallmark holiday and weren’t going to buy into it, a notion I agree with, but still. The every-day-is-mother’s-day is a nice nod but they weren’t calling to acknowledge me any other day either. I told myself to get over it. And don’t look at Facebook! The lockdown and isolation seems to have softened them a bit. Or maybe it is adulthood, but this year I went up a full 60% and heard from all my children. A message or call is what I wanted and got and I am glad. And believe me, I was keeping track. By nine a.m. I’d received a text from one and a call from another. 40%. I thought that was pretty good and went through my day not expecting anything more. I repeated my mantra, “Stay away from Facebook” and pretended I didn’t care. I went for a long walk, missed a turn, took a longer walk, and pretended I was fine! Evening brought another call, then another and I went to bed thinking four out of five was pretty good. When I got up on Monday there was a text sent at 11 p.m., just under the wire and I thought all day how happy I was that I finally was batting a thousand! Then I went on-line and bought myself a present and tried to remember the poem about buying yourself flowers or something like that, but was more practical and settled on nice new sheets. I find I either sleep really well these nights or don’t sleep at all. Sheets have become a more important part of my daily existence. I thought I deserved something special to spend so many hours wrapped in. I bought bamboo and love them. Thank you.
It really is critical to survival of the species that we do not know what we are getting into when we have kids. No matter how many books we read, stories we hear, lived experiences we’ve had, we still think we are going to do it right and better and have kids that fulfill the missing parts of ourselves. What a terrible burden to lay on them. I wanted a family so badly from the time I can remember. My dolls were real to me and I cared for them like real babies, irate if anyone treated them otherwise. I came of age when women finally had choices about procreation. I chose a big family, it wasn’t an accident. And there have been many times during the raising of my children I wondered what I was doing wrong. All my good intentions weren’t enough and things were not turning out how I expected. And, yup. That’s how motherhood is.
During this time which, I think we can all agree, is historic, I think people should be writing about their experiences. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I keep a daily journal and write this blog every week, but this is just me. I wish I had access to mothers’ daily experiences across time, not just the noble women who could write, but every woman. I want to know what she felt and thought about raising kids. Honest feelings and honest reflections. History is clearly and obviously skewed by male writing and perspective. What was it like for women in 1918, day to day? How did her heart break when she lost a child? I imagine it based on how I feel when I’m sad if a child of mine is suffering, but I want to know about the grief she felt; the fatigue of just getting through a day trying to keep everyone alive. I want to know her story and I want her to tell it. We can’t go back and get those stories but we can get women’s stories now. So write girls! As if no one will read it. And make it from the gut and heart. I want to believe the world will survive this and your stories will help shape the remake.
Love to all,