Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

This is a pretty tough thing for me to write about but I feel like I have to get it all out and start moving on. I need to let go of a lot of things concerning my family and my mother in particular. This will be my first Mother's Day AS a mom and I think it's a good time to get this weight off my chest once and for all. The beautiful woman in that picture, as I'm sure you've guessed by now, is my mother Pauline Jeannette (Plante) Humphrey. She passed away eleven years ago. I occasionally try to deal with it, usually to no avail. Once in awhile I have a moment of clarity only to regress whenever the subject is pushed to the forefront again. Here's a perfect example of a clear moment... something I dug up from my old LiveJournal written January 14,2001:
Current mood: thankful
Current music: talktalk- it's my life
i was sitting here listening to happy, fun songs for once (*gasp*)and i started thinking about why exactly i was being so damn whiny and pathetic lately.... i guess i have no right when it comes down to it. i have no money and a shitty job, but who doesn't? other problems are more prevalent but i'll never get over anything if i can't admit what's wrong and get it off my chest, mike tries to get me to talk and make me feel better sometimes, and bless him for trying, but i'm no good at talking, i never have been. writing is easier, you don't have to watch someone's reaction, or feel like anyone pities you. so this is my first attempt at moving on, maybe seeing things written down they won't seem so bad, or if they do, maybe i'll be able to figure out a way to deal with the hurt instead of drowning in it all the time.
these are some of the things i get caught up with the most often:
my boyfriend died in a car accident, but that was when i was 15... he was and probably always will be the only boy i ever loved (or would admit to myself anyway) but at 15 does anyone really know what love is?
i've lost friends to drugs and suicide, but there are others who've never had the chance to make the kind of friends that i've had and some people never will. i don't know, i think that a lot of the time i make my problems much worse than they actually are.
i decided that the only relevant thing i have to get upset about is my family... my dad is a piece of shit, he is an alcoholic and a drug addict, and he put me and my brother through things that i still can't bring myself to talk about or admit... i know that there are others who went through the same but that knowledge doesn't always help things...
and......... my mom is dead.
for the longest time i had a hard time even thinking it, never mind saying it... there are a ton of people who still don't know, but she is.
the reason that this kills me so much (aside from the obvious) is that i really fucked up... i mean REALLY. my mother was the only person in my life that i think really loved me... unconditionally, the way i guess only a mother can. i put her through so much, and it hurts me to think about it. i was so concerned with "being myself" that i shut everyone out including her...
even when she was dying.
i was too concerned with what that meant to me and how upset *I* was to even visit more than twice... and when i did visit i'm sure i only made things worse for her... i just stood there, i couldn't do anything, not talk to her or hug her, or even hold her hand, i couldn't. i realized at that moment (even though i forget sometimes) what being sad really is, it's not being broke, or upset with someone... it's giving up something that you've known all your life, your support, your backbone, your strength.... that unconditional love -forever, and having no choice. it kills me that i hadn't hugged my mother since i was 14, it kills me that i never told her i was sorry, it kills me that i never told her i loved her, or how much i let her believe otherwise when i was mad... i loved her, i did, i just didn't know how to say it, or how to feel it either i guess, i didn't know how to love someone. and i wish i could take it all back and make her believe me... i wish it wasn't too late and she could see what i grew up to be, i think that no matter how bad things seem to me sometimes, she'd still be proud of me.... that's what love is.
every day i see people who should never be allowed have children, my mother wasn't like that at all, she was one of those people that just knew how to make someone feel special and loved, you behaved because you knew she wanted you to, not because she made you, you did things so she'd smile... and you ended up a good person because she was. my father treated her like garbage, i didn't understand then but i do now, and i remember that no matter how sad and upset she was over him, and no matter how much he had hurt her, she protected us from it, and made us feel safe and loved whenever she could.
i always said i'd never have kids but if i did i can only hope and pray that i am half the mother she was... and i wish she were still alive so i could tell her that, and that i am proud of her for making me the strong person i am today (even if i don't feel so strong sometimes), and that i love her now and always... i think it would make her smile.
My mother is in the pink (closest to the bride- my aunt Nancy)
It's pretty hard for me to see how clear I was about this at 22 when at 31 I still have a hard time finding the right words whenever the subject arises. Unfortunately I think my version of 'getting over it' was to write about it and then try to erase all traces of it from my memory.
Not that it worked. 
I've never forgotten and every time I read that journal entry it's like I'm right back in that moment. I still agree with every word. I feel like I failed my mother when she needed me the most. 
Here's the part I've never written about... this is where the real guilt comes in. While cleaning and packing up my mothers room when we were moving out I found a box of her things and in it was a newspaper article from Mother's Day 1996 (3 years before she died... when I had left home because I thought she was weak for taking our father's abuse and our relationship was at it's worst) it was titled 'Tell Mom you love her before it's too late'. Now the natural thing to do is to assume that she clipped this article because she had guilty feelings about her own mother... but her mother died when she was 8. She never showed me this article or talked about it. I didn't even know it existed until it WAS too late. For a few years after I found it I had weird paranoid irrational theories about letters from beyond the grave and even for a few bitter moments that I'm not proud of I had the thought that she knew I would only find it after she was dead. That she put it there so I would read it later and know how much pain I had caused her by shutting her out. But the truth is, my mother was not that kind of person. She didn't have a vindictive bone in her body...

The strange thing about the article is that the person writing talks about how she buried her mother only to return home after the service and find a poem in her mother's desk entitled The Time Is Now... basically saying that she needed to be loved while she was alive and to tell her before it was too late. She didn't. Flash forward and I am in the exact same situation. Talk about history repeating itself. Talk about an endless cycle of guilt. Is this Karma?

So here I am, tomorrow is Mother's Day and for the first time in over a decade I have a reason to celebrate. I've brought a beautiful little girl into the world. I've given her the same middle name as my mother so that every time I look at her I can remember where I came from, I can remember what being a mother means, I can remember to show her love everyday and I can remember the kind of love that I had growing up... 
I will remember sitting on my mother's lap and reading Cinderella (I've bought Aurora the same copy). 
I will remember handmade Halloween costumes and Christmas crayons and coloring books.
I will remember eating home cooked meals together and walking to school hand in hand.
I will remember blanket forts to hide in during the hurricane so I wouldn't be scared. 
I will remember sledding and how she always made hot chocolate when we got home so I could warm my hands.
I will remember the sacrifices she made to keep us safe and pure and innocent when everything around her was starting to become so ugly. 
I will remember the last good conversation we had when I looked at her like a friend for the first time. 
I will start to put aside the memories that are not so pretty because they are doing her a disservice. My mother lived and died with a quiet dignity and she should be remembered that way. She deserves to stay unblemished in my heart because she tried her hardest to show only her good side... even when things were at their worst. I have to forgive her and I have to forgive myself.  I have to let go of the hurt and the anger and the guilt and I have to mean it this time.

I am a mother now and like I said so many years ago I can only hope to be half the mother I had. The first step is focusing on the positives and making sure I give that little angel asleep in my bed right now the best and happiest life I can give her. To make sure she is safe and protected but most of all to make sure she knows just how loved she is and how proud I will always be of her. I will make sure she never has to question that love because in the end that's the best a mother can do... my mother was amazing at it and I have some pretty big shoes to fill.

So tonight I think for the first time I can say with all my heart...

Happy Mother's Day.


J said...

wow, angela. that was so touching and personal. i can see that a mother is what your were meant to be, you really seem to have found your place in the world. it just all seems so wonderfully grounding and positive. your mom was one strong lady, and i'm sure she knew that you loved her and you're passing on all that amazing love to aurora. thanks for writing this. i really connected to this. also, the pictures made me reflect on my childhood they are so woonsocket <3 love it.

MsAngelStarr said...

Thanks! I wasn't 100% on my decision to share it, but I'm glad I did.

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