Devoid of Emotion

Today is Mother’s / Mothers’ / Mothers Day (How. To. Punctuate. ?.). I know this because of all the tributes to mothers being posted on Facebook. People talking about how great their mother was. Missing their mother for 30+ years. Missing her from 5 years ago. All these tributes.

I read them, devoid of feeling, for I tend not to think of my mother. I know I’m not the only one, as this post discusses.

This doesn’t mean there weren’t important women in my life. My grandmother (mother’s mother). My great-aunt (her sister). My aunts on my dad’s side. Godparents and family friends. (I’d add my stepmother to this list — my dad’s last wife — but by the time she came into his life I was already married and out of the house, so it was less of a motherly relationship and more just friendship).

But my mother? My mother was many things. Extremely smart. An astute businesswoman. A great accountant (one of the first women CPAs in California). A people person. She got along great at business parties.

But a nurturing mother who was always there caring? That’s not my memory. It may have been the case when I was young — I just don’t remember. It may have been the case early in the marriage, when she was raising my step-brother and I, when I was very young.

But the memory I have — perhaps from 8 or later — was the mother who was devoted to her accounting practice. The mother who left my care to housekeepers and her mom and other relatives. The mother who turned to drink and meds to deal with the pain after my brother died. The mother who yelled and faught. The mother who turned my bedroom into an office less than 6 months after I was out of the house. The mother who wanted the attention, and used emotional manipulation to get it — to the point where we had to cut contact early in our marriage. The mother who died on our wedding anniversary.

Mothers: Think about the lessons that your behavior teaches your children. You have the opportunity to set the example of what they will aspire to be, and how they will aspire to behave. Alternatively, you’ll be the negative example: the traits they consciously don’t want to have, the way they don’t want to behave. My mother taught me one major thing: I needed to do something different. My wife and I consciously tried to create a different relationship with our daughter, and I think we did.

Does this mean that I hate my mother? No. She did the best she could with her skillset and circumstances. By the time I was at a conscious age to remember the mothering, she was already consumed by the death of my brother, and her belief that it was her actions that caused it (it wasn’t, but step-mother relationships are difficult). So I don’t hate her, but I also doesn’t feel the depth of emotion that I see many express towards their mothers. My father, yes. My mother, no. I am, as I titled this piece, devoid of emotion. She wringed it all out of me.

So I think her for what she did raising me, and that we all survived. I think she would be proud of where I am now. I’m sorry our relationship wasn’t better, but I can’t go back and change the past and what happened. I’ll treasure the few good memories and move on.

Happy Mothers Day to those with great relationships and memories of their mothers. A tip of the hat and Happy Mothers Day to the other women in my life who provided the nurturing that I still remember positively.

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