Ode to My Mother: Where are You?

I remember when you used to be involved. You would volunteer at my school, and I remember being so proud that my mother was helping. She’s there! I would point to my friends, and I would grin wildly. I was so proud. I remember when you would attend my events, and I would eagerly scan the audience, hoping to find you, to make eye contact, and to show you just how good I was.

I don’t remember when that all stopped, but I do know that it did. Perhaps you have reasons, and some of them, I’d understand, because you can’t always be there to cheer your kids on, because life happens. However, where it started as just an occasion or two, it became a complete removal.  Do you remember one of the last soccer games you attended of mine? You shouted insults at me about my playing ability from the sidelines, veiling them as a jokes. I felt so humiliated, so embarrassed, and I knew that as much as I wanted you there, I just didn’t even want you there anymore. Not like that.

So, I became accustomed to relying on other parents to cart me to and from my soccer games. I reveled in their encouragement as I became a stronger soccer player. I knew you wouldn’t show up to championship matches because they fell on Sundays. I knew that you wouldn’t come to my theatre performances because of religious obligations, or because you found a way to opt out because you morally couldn’t attend. I knew that my test scores at school never really mattered to you, because even when they were my best, they weren’t good enough for you. When I dealt with that Mormon boy who sexually assaulted me, you weren’t there. You were disappointed in me, you said, for putting myself in that situation. Disappointed.

When other kids, and then teenagers had their parents rooting them on, I had to quietly repress the sadness I felt that my parents didn’t seem to feel that it was important to be there. I wasn’t important, that was the  message and it came in, loud and clear.

As my own kids grow, I keep asking myself, “Where was she?”  When did you lose that sense of parental responsibility, the unconditional love and support?  When did you believe that you were superior as a person, and no longer needed to be a good mother? When did everything else in your life trump the most important job you could possibly have?

What did I do to deserve the removal of this love?

This past month, we had the in-laws over for Easter. I hosted, and despite working myself into this magnificent tizzy, I was amazed at how easy it was. There wasn’t any underhanded comments, there was no disappointment at a last minute cancellation because of church stuff.  We just came together, as a family, to enjoy one another and to celebrate. It was simple, it was uncomplicated. It was so nice. 

When the weekend came to a close, I found myself sinking into the rabbit hole that I’ve come to know well as I reflected on our relationship, past and present. Our relationship, I realized was never about being together as a family, it was never about a mother loving and supporting her daughter, no matter what. It’s complicated, messy, and right now, non-existent. I find myself asking again, “Where are you?”  Why couldn’t it, I asked my husband, just be that easy with my own family?

You’d think after years and years of knowing you’d never be there, that as an adult I’d be able to accept that the routine is not going to change. I’ve spent nights battling with myself internally, berating myself for caring that my own mother, my family, has been absent through many of the important parts of my life. I feel guilty because I have given up. I’ve had to learn sometimes there is just nothing you can do to get someone to give a damn.  Even when that person is your own mother.

As Mother’s Day draws closer, and closer, the sadness I’ve felt toward our non-contact has dissipated, and turned into anger. I’m angry at you for being emotionally unavailable. I’m angry that you believed your religion to be more important than your children. I’m angry that when your granddaughter was molested, you chose to pretend it wasn’t real. I’m angry that you dumped me on the front steps of LDSFS, and washed your hands of me. I’m angry for so many things, but mostly, I’m angry that you don’t get it.

You failed as my mother, and somehow, you still lay claim to that title. I wish that I could strip you of that, and make you feel the heartache I feel because of your actions, or rather, your inaction.

So I won’t be sending you warm wishes this weekend. I won’t be posting platitudes about love or about all your hard work as a doting, supporting mom. I won’t feel guilty for any of that, because it’s not my job to make you feel good about a job you simply didn’t do.

However, I do thank you, from the bottom of my heart for giving me one thing:

I know the kind of mother I want to be because of you; The opposite of the kind you were.

2 thoughts on “Ode to My Mother: Where are You?”

  1. This is so heartbreaking – and at the same time it’s so very brave of you. If your goal is to be the opposite of how your mother was, I’d guess you’re an amazing mom.

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