Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and mothers-to-be!

I grew up without a biological mother. She left me and my two sisters when I was ten years old, and after that, didn’t have much contact with her. For years I hoped that she would turn into my idealized notion of what a mother should be, and she’d come home, bake cookies and shower me with love and kisses. But that was not to be. I went through the stages of grief, and I wondered what horrible things I had done to make a mother leave behind her daughter. For years I felt worthless.

But I feel lucky. Though I didn’t have a mother, I was surrounded by loving, mother figures. Mrs. W, the next-door neighbor who taught me how to pray. The ladies at church who took turns taking me to the mother-daughter dinners. The lady down the street who invited me in for lemonade every Thursday afternoon. My friend Lisa’s mother who cried with me through breakups with my boyfriends and also my triumphs such as being accepted to college. Later, when I became an adult, I moved away from home and lost contact with those women. They may not remember me now, but I remember them, and I’m thankful that I was able to know a mother’s love, even though they were not my real mothers. When I eventually had my own children, there was no question about whether or not I was capable of loving them. Maybe it’s what those surrogate mothers taught me, or maybe it’s because a mother’s love naturally bubbles up and overflows.

In other ways I am lucky. As a writer, I could create the ideal (or almost ideal mother as in my novel, Living in the City) mother. Or I channeled my hurts by writing unsent letters to the mother who abandoned me. Without writing, I would not have gotten through the pain.

Try these exercises:
*Freewrite about your idealized image of a mother.
*Freewrite, using this prompt: “These are the facts about my mother…”
*Freewrite about a moment that caused your relationship with your mother to change, for better or for worse.

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