Wednesday, November 9, 2011

For all the mothers who mothered me (especially my own)

I first want to apologize for the rambling nature of this post.  This is more therapy than a well-crafted piece of nonfiction.  Shit, I have no idea what I want to say.  I just know I need to get out what's inside and I'm home alone with no grown ups to talk to and sometimes the internets full of strangers is a better audience than your best friend.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about; well, don't worry about it.  But I bet a few of you do.

I have been thinking about the women in my life who have been mothers to me.  I have been so lucky to have had several women, related to me and not, take me under their care as if I was their own.  One of those women died earlier this year at the age of 84.  Fucking cancer.  Another of those wonderful spirits is fighting cancer as I type and cancer is winning.  That asshole cancer is trying to take my friend's mother. But we still need her here. She needs to play with her grandchildren.  She needs to sit in the sun.  She needs to hug her daughters.  She doesn't need to suffer.  She doesn't need to leave her husband all alone in that house.

Days like today are days when I affirm my belief in no god, because why would a god allow lovely, soulful, generous spirits to suffer so greatly.  I see no purpose to it, only cruelty. So maybe if there is a god, he's the vengeful god of the Old Testament.  But that god is an asshole, so I again opt out.

I am also thinking about these women in my life who were mothers of good friends who have shown me great love and kindness. I have been included in holiday meals, given surprise birthday parties (more than once and by more than one mother), given handmade quilts, taken to college interviews, driven all over creation, tolerated, celebrated, advised, and chastised.

When I was a child my neighbor, K., took care of me on a daily basis.  She fed me fried bologna sandwiches, bathed me, hugged me, and treated me just like her boys, sometimes better than her boys.  She was the person who told me about 'the birds and bees'.  Well, actually she confirmed the story I was told by the weird boy who ate worms and licked the bus floor (who was obviously not a reliable source).  And then one day I turned my back on K.  I became a teenager who didn't need a babysitter, who no longer played wiffle ball in her backyard. And you know, I never thanked her.  I haven't sent a Christmas card in well over a decade.  I haven't checked in when I had babies.  Nothing.  I lost touch with her boys and then we all grew up and then....well and then.

I also have these bonus mothers now, in my grown up life. They are older women, mothers themselves, who offer me counsel and encouragement.  They tell me I'm doing a great job, even when I know I'm just barely muddling through. They love my babies fiercely. These grown up relationships are so different than the relationships with my relatives and friends' mothers.  Now I am equal.  Now I am appreciative.  Now I know enough to treasure their love.

Some people aren't lucky enough to have even one real mother in their life. I have had more than a couple of shares.  Maybe the universe made up for all the fathering I didn't get. (Although I have had those bonus fathers too, someday I'm going to give them their due.) Maybe I'm just a lucky person with an amazing mom AND all this extra mothering. Maybe everyone gets these bonus moms.  Or maybe I'm one of the few who notice. I don't know.

I'm sad. I am realizing that someday I am going to have to let go of my own mother, maybe witness her suffering. (I completely cannot go there right now or I will become undone.)  I am feeling helpless that I can't help my friend; kill the cancer so my friend can keep her mother.

I want to keep all the mothers in the world.  We need them.  We have none to spare. Cancer stop taking our mothers.  You motherfucker.


  1. Glad you got this out, NDJ -- and thanks for sharing it. Love you.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this Nicole. I don’t confront anger well, so I’m using your passage to get there. It’s helping.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.