The language of motherhood, in the past-imperfect tense

My mother probably shouldn’t have become a mother.  She needed all the attention focused on her, preventing her from giving too much of it to little kids who needed plenty of encouragement, affection, and emotional support.  She was pleased as punch to tell everyone, “Geri was toilet trained at 10 months old.”  You read it right. 10 months old!   The quicker she could get me out of diapers, the more time she’d have to focus on herself. It annoyed her to change diapers. That was mom all the way.  If I invited her somewhere that was important to me, and it interfered with her social activities, she wasn’t interested.  When my son was born, she reluctantly came to help me out but I told her to leave after one night because she really wanted to be home with my father, not with her new grandchild.

Joan Crawford's adopted daughter, Christina, says her mother beat her with wire hangers .


But have a child she did. She had three of them, as a matter of fact.  And while I had to figure out, on my own, how to take charge of myself and grow up in one piece, I went to enough therapy to learn how to be in the same room with my mother without cringing. Having a supportive mother-daughter relationship would have been nice, but alas, I didn’t have one. Although I’m certain her personality affected mine, I wasn’t going to change it, no matter how hard I tried.  And try I did. I’d get angry as hell at her when I thought she was acting selfishly.  I even stopped talking to her for six years because I couldn’t be in the same room as her. She really didn’t care.

At the end of the day, we’re all on our own.  If we don’t get the nurturing we need when we’re younger, we can A.) Let it ruin our lives B.) Try all different ways to make up for what we missed, till we hit on one that helps (besides alcoholism and drug abuse. C.) Endlessly blame our parents. D.) Permanently erase our parents from our lives.

I chose B. Although my mother was self-absorbed till the day she died, she eventually told me she loved me.  I believe she did.  The best way she could.

0 Responses to “The language of motherhood, in the past-imperfect tense”

  1. Lauren says:

    I saw Mommie Dearest when I was little and it seriously disturbed me. I caught it on tv late last night, it was the first time I’ve seen it since I was little. It still upsets me. I am lucky enough to have the greatest mother in the universe. She was born to be a mom, she’s caring, supportive, unselfish, and so loving. I thank God every day that I am so blessed to have a mother like her, and I feel just terrible for the ppl who don’t have a mom like mine.

  2. Kathleen Klatt says:

    My mother was a Joan Crawford clone. She not only looked like (almost spooky) but she practiced her facial expressions in the mirror. When I saw the movie “Mommy Dearest”, I thought I was seeing a movie about my mother. Funny thing is that my mother knew her. She worked with her at the studios. My mother was a costume designer under Edith Head.
    Over the years I found “mother replacements” I think my Mother In Law was about the best and also my aunt, who was a loving and attentive Aunt/substitute mother.
    It took me a long time to get the thought out of my head, that “if your mother didn’t love you, nobody could” but in the end I went to take care of her and be her advocate when she was in a home dieing. I was determined that I should feel no guilt and I don’t. I read to her every day before she died. It released me from my hurt and pain. I guess in a way I forgave her.

  3. Kate Line Snider says:

    MY other was a model of loving attention, supporting everything I did and encouraging my talents and abilities.She supported my professional choices and my choices in love. She always spoke well of me, her only child.She encouraged all my children to respect and praise me, and especially to appreciate my housekeeping and sacrifices.

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