Its incredible how the mind and heart can build up a moment before its about to happen. Its as if a protective shield starts to encase you, or reminders of what to say or not say, how to act, or not to act run wild in your brain. This didn’t happen with me, maybe I was too numb to feel it.
Climbing into the car my brother said “Moms waiting for us, she called while you were in the bank”. Swallowing hard, I responded with “Us? does she know I am here?” and he replied with yes, she is waiting to see us. Driving to where she lived, I was terrified – questions about where she lived, her lifestyle, what kind of people would be there, could I get shot?? These were all the crazy things running through my mind. The neighborhood where we were, was less than favorable, and not knowing which color clothes I should be wearing to ensure my safety – scared the shit our of me, I am not even going to try and lie and say other words.
You have to remember, I do not know this woman. What I know of her, is her name, and that I stopped seeing her after I was four following my parents divorce. In the following twenty-nine years, I have seen her maybe four times and the last one was fifteen years ago. So, this car ride – this visit was a BIG deal and ended up being a BIG nothing.
Pulling up to a rundown house, with about three different trailers, weeds, and piles of junk everywhere, out walked a woman about 5’9, with a purplish-pinkish-redish type color of short curly hair, wearing a mans flannel, dated jeans and slippers. Her face was swollen due to having Graves disease, something I learned that day, and her over all appearance was that she had obviously had a hard life. She walked up and hugged me, a hug that I am sure I dreamed of for years, a hug that now felt uncomfortable and empty.
Walking us into her backyard, she sat in a chair while my brother and I shared a porch swing. Swinging back and forth, I talked with my brother, but was finding difficulty in what to say to her, or even to look at her, because part of me wanted to study this woman. You know – like look at the details of her face, her eyes, her hands, were they mine? Listening to the way she talked, she sounded the same, her laugh was the same although it wasn’t mine. Nothing about her was me, and nothing about me is her – it was an odd feeling. It was as if, I was meeting a friends mom for the first time, there was that lack of knowledge between us – no bond at all.
Talking with my brother, she expressed concern over her grandsons moving here to Oregon, and teared up at the thought of not seeing them. She reminisced about my brother and it was obvious they had some sort of a relationship, even though my brother puts forth all the effort. When I would talk, she would study me, I felt her looking me over – maybe doing the same thing I was doing to her – I don’t know. She laughed when I would say something funny, and would talk to me in a round about manner.
When my brother would stop talking, it was quiet. When he left to pee behind a tree, it was silent until his return. This woman and I were strangers. There wasn’t anything we shared the same, except our blood, and for me that is not enough. I suppose I could have thanked her for giving birth to me, but I didn’t.
She didn’t ask how I was, or what I did for a living, or anything for that matter. She didn’t ask about my children, her grandchildren at all – it was if they didn’t exist. In a sense, I guess to her they don’t – she has never met any of them and most likely never will. Sitting there within arms reach of her, part of me want to scream at her – shake her even, anything to make her wake up. Questions that I had like, do you not love me, do you not care about me, or getting to know your grandchildren, does nothing exist beyond drugs, pool tables and the men in your life? Release my anger of the years of being let down, not important enough, of growing up without a mother – but looking at her – I realized something bigger. That didn’t matter anymore.
Growing up I always held out hope that my mom would come riding in on whatever moms ride in on, and play with my hair, talk to me about boys, teach me about the birds and the bees, to tell me I was beautiful or smart just once – just once I wanted to hear that from her. But, today that hope didn’t exist. Being angry with her would do no good, and hating her was pointless. I don’t hate her, in fact I honestly don’t feel anything for her oddly enough. Obviously, I am affected by the visit enough to write about it – but not out of heartache – more out of self-discovery.
She gave birth to me, but I am not her. My children are my world, their days, new skills, sports, hobbies, snuggling with them, the pride that fills me when they do anything they are excited about, that’s me. Being their mother is a privilege, and one I take seriously and with the highest regard. My daughter is me, her attitude, her humor and smart ass remarks. My son’s kind heart, his shy personality, his need to be loved and snuggled, that’s me. None of that is her, and I am far more blessed because of it.
I’m not going to say that the visit didn’t hurt somewhere inside of me, and maybe it won’t hit me till she dies or something tragic happens, I don’t know. What I can say though, is that I must have known the visit would go this way, because I had no expectations, I didn’t daydream up the possibilities of what may or may not happen. Which is not me, I over-think, and over-worry about anything – but for some thankful reason, I did not with her. If you don’t want to be let down, lower your expectations, I read that somewhere and it is true – it works.
Finishing up our twenty-five minute visit, she walked us out to my car, something of which she doesn’t have. She hugged my brother, and although I tried to avoid it, she hugged me. She kissed me on my cheek, and with her voice cracking she told me she loved me, without thinking I said it back – shocked at myself, and feeling like a fraud. Those words meant nothing to me, and towards her they were just an automated response, and nothing more. She teared up, and I got in the car with her standing there looking at us, I never looked at her again, just backed out of the driveway and out of her life.
Its natural I suppose to wonder what she was thinking of in that moment, what exactly it was she was crying about – Could it be that she had every opportunity to get to know me, and chose not to? Or, that she knew that she would never see me again? Who knows maybe she was crying because my brother was leaving – either way it doesn’t matter.
Driving away from her home made me love my children and my husband more. An overwhelming feeling of being blessed with our life came over me – truth is it doesn’t matter where I came from or whether they loved me or wanted me even – because today I am loved, today I am wanted and today I have broken the cycle my parents created.
Getting home that night, it was close to midnight, I had promised the kids I would come in to kiss them goodnight. My daughter laid in her bed with her beautiful long blond hair strewn on her pillow, eyes closed and sleeping peacefully. Kissing her cheek, part of me wanted to swoop her up in my arms and tell her a million times over that I loved her, was proud of her and that she is so beautiful and smart. Instead, I just turned out her light and moved on to the boys room. My oldest son slept among toys, I swear he can sleep on anything – he sat up in his sleep and gave me a hug, I removed the toys and covered him up with a blanket. The youngest was laying there with a big smile, sat up and was extra excited to see me, giving me hugs and kisses and telling me he missed me. Tucking them both in, I walked back to my room, where my husband was half asleep on my side of the bed, trying to wait up for me, and happy I was now home, so he could sleep. Crawling into to bed, I realized if I never did anything more in my life than just being a mom and a wife, then I had already made it big!
What matters to you most?
See you next blog ~ Jess