With Regards to My Mother
"I shall love her all my life, shall be to her a faithful friend, and if I can not remain loyal to both God and her, I shall renounce her and never see her face again. You'll call this folly; to me it is a hard duty, and the more I love her, the worthier of her will I endevour to become by my own integrity of soul."
---Louisa May Alcott
"No, Shannon. You are not naming that doll of your's Vagina. Change it. Now," my mother was in no mood for nonsense. She'd prided herself on teaching her children proper names for all body parts, but was likely having second thoughts in the wake of my naming decision for my beautiful new doll.
I was nearly 5 years old, and actually not up to my usual mischief. I loved my new doll, she was so real, and the only other girl besides me. The name made sense. I protested.
We had been doing rounds for weeks my mom and I, and I'm pretty sure she was shopping for one of those "Safe Surrender" sites you can drop off infants you don't want to water and feed. She would apologize to the fire department for procrastinating for so long, but was it too late to return a five-year-old?
My whiny protests fell on deliberately deaf ears. My mother was, and is, Ms. Manners, and there would certainly be no curly-cued, frilly-dressed, Vagina laying on the back seat of her Pontiac crying "Mama" at random intervals.
"Shannon Jacqueline!" --(uh-oh)-- "YOU CHANGE THAT DOLL'S NAME RIGHT NOW OR SO HELP ME GOD IN HEAVEN..."
I was pretty sure that if she was taking the time to do a consult with "God in Heaven" things were not going to go my way. I renamed her "Virginia" but her first and most heartfelt name was how I always saw her.
I just had to write this hub. What is it about your mother's approval that ranks somewhere around discovering an unknown planet, or watching the earth crack in half without being harmed? I know I'm not the only one. I've seen many otherwise sane women display this kind of twisted logic. Those few episodes of "Say Yes To The Dress" I've seen illustrates this perfectly. A young woman walks out of the dressing room looking as if she'd just stepped out of heaven--the entire store stands in applause, a gay male soulmate of mine is passing tissues to all store patrons, who like him, are literally weeping at the sight of her, and if her mother so much as furrows her eyebrows in disapproval the same young woman is racing back to the dressing room tearing off the gown as if it were engulfed in flames.
I am not judging that girl in the gown. I am that girl in the gown. No matter how independent I might seem on the surface, ultimately the death blow to anything I hold dear is my mother's disdain. I'll fight it initially, but it is pointless. Acting as both the one-woman demolition crew and architect of my psyche, I tell her often that she's going to keep my shrink in stitches when I finally break down and go get the professional help I need.
Now Father--Daughter relationships, that's something special and different in its own right. While I usually want to say something to the effect of, "Oh, hey dad, I was just sitting up straight, thinking about Jesus, eating vegetables, and not listening to Metallica before you called..." I can comfortably refrain. There is zero risk I could lose my father's idealistic love for me--angel that I am. In my Dad's eyes I really can do no wrong. I could asassinate the first black president of these United States, and my dad will be able to circumvent so quirky a short-coming as cold-blooded murderer with, "but that's my baby." With that fact as my only defense, my dad will motion that I am acquitted of all charges. Mothers, however, at times can be--let's call it frugal--with their approval.
How are mothers getting away with this kind of power? I guess it has something to do with the fact that our mothers see our flaws, and know we can do better. They see our mistakes, and know we can recover. They see us broken, and know it is temporary. And even when our own pain breaks their heart, they will poker-face through it rather than divert attention from whom they love most. And so we forgive our mothers their trespasses.
A woman is like a teabag. Only when in hot water do you realize how strong she is.
One day my mother had lost too much weight. One day she was too tired to help us shop for school supplies. One day one of the most obnoxiously strong people I knew--was weak. One day her arms shined like newly shellacked floors, and the doctors struggled for answers. When the fog of diagnosing cleared, the best of the best of medical expertise told her to "live as best she could, for as long as she could." A normal child, like my brother, would run to their mother, and hold on for dear life if she was scheduled to die early as our's was. I slowly backed away. As I knew my mother to be part-evil, and evil just doesn't die, she'd breached the love contract with her mortality. I had assumed, like every child does, that she was immortal, or that her death was so far into the unfathomable future that it was practically science fiction. It was the beginning of a new life on a plank's edge, wondering when I'd be made to walk into oblivion.
Innately indepedent, I found myself chronically, and pathologically "fine." If the worst was happening, I could handle it. If the sky was actually falling, I could nap without worry. My friends later voted me "most likely to drive herself to the hospital in labor." Life was no match for the prospect of losing my mother, and I was free. I never lived in "what if..." every moment was its own tale or question, and I was not shook.
To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.
She texts me, and it is dumb. My mother, programmed in my phone as "Birdie" wants to know if I'm headed to my "gross job." She hates childbirth.
I tell her to keep giving me grief so I can lower her nursing home budget.
She texts that my dad is so old before his time and is annoying her.
I tell her no one told her to get married.
She texts about her errands, and I tell her I need to go. Neither of us says "I love you," but we already know.
I head down the highway. I smile at the way my mother has never guessed that my choice of careers, in all of its disgusting, was to celebrate the bond that made the most sense to me--the one between a mother and her child. I smile at all the ways we white-knuckled time itself in grevious anticipation of her death. I describe her to people today as "too healthy." I describe her to my soul as love in 3-D.
Me at my "Gross Job"...
And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see -- or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.--Alice Walker
A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.--Tenneva Jordan
Marge, I'm gonna miss you so much. And it's not just the sex! It's also the food preparation.--Homer Simpson
“My mother tried to kill me when I was a baby. She denied it. She said she thought the plastic bag would keep me fresh.” – Bob Monkhouse
The phrase ‘working mother’ is redundant.--- Jane Sellman
There was never a great man who had not a great mother -- it is hardly an exaggeration.--Olive Schreiner
My mother never gave up on me. I messed up in school so much they were sending me home, but my mother sent me right back.--Denzel Washington
It was my mother who gave me my voice. She did this, I know now, by clearing a space where my words could fall, grow, then find their way to others.--Paula Giddings
Experts say you should never hit your children in anger. When is a good time? When you're feeling festive?--Roseanne
A little girl, asked where her home was, replied, 'Where mother is.' --Keith L. Brooks