I love my mother so much I can’t stand it.
Name this movie in the comments & win my utmost respect!
I love her completely, in many, completely different ways. First of all, she did SO right by me as a mom. Not everybody can say that about their mother, so I want to say that first. As my only parent, I love her the way I used to wish I had a father for ~ it was my idea for us to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in 2006, and we still do. Today, while drafting a post about chronic, pervasive loneliness, I realized that she’s also like the older and younger and twin sister (and brother) I also used to pine for. How lucky and convenient for me! It’s also rather yogic, now that I think about it.
Yoga means union and integration, remember? What if it’s okay to have all your familiar needs integrated and satiated by one primary caregiver? Or two: your mother and your grandmother? What if I only even wanted a father &/or siblings because someone or something told me that was normal. The expectation for a family to look a certain way wasn’t something I learned until I already loved my family the way it was. Even then, what folks considered a “typical American nuclear family” was rapidly changing and continues to change from year to year.
Growing up, people (especially other kids) would get a little confused, then horrified when they found out my mother didn’t have the same last name as I. After their assumption that she was married was busted, I had to shatter their assumption that she was divorced. I was mostly amused by this, more so when it felt like they expected me to be ashamed. In fact I always thought it was cool that my mom denied my father’s request for marriage. Wait till you see how she did it!
Greg: Let’s get married.
Mom: Why do you want to marry me?
Greg: Uh… because you’re pregnant with my** child? I wanna do the right thing, you know? Blah-blah-blah, basic-basic-basic… I’ll probably stop cheating on you and everything… I mean, probably. We are sailors in our early-20s, ya dig?***
Mom: Nah, I’m good.
Turns out, he didn’t want to be a father anyway (tell that to my possibly-more-than-two-at-this-point younger half-siblings, whydontcha?), and I’ll have a whole ‘nother category for #daddy issues, don’t you fret. Long story short, NOT marrying him was the best decision my mother ever made for me. My grandmother made the opposite decision. Nobody. Ever talks about her husband, but sometimes you could taste the bitterness just by being in the same room with her. Another story for another day.
After my grandmother’s generation, marriage in my family became the exception, not the rule. Fathers were largely absent from their children’s lives as if it were a matter of course, even my mother’s own brothers. Sometimes while living in the same city! The only married uncle, Uncle J, almost got a pass… until I met my cousin D, who was raised by a single mother around the corner from his younger half-brother without even knowing it. Does that even make sense? I’ll make y’all a chart if I bring this up again in a post about #daddyissues.
The only explanation for this I gleaned was that, in the words of their mother, my beloved Granma: “they ain’t shit, they ain’t never gonna be shit, and they daddy wa’nt shit, neither.” Apparently she’s not the only African American woman to say this (literally those same words) about her own children and/or their fathers. By the way, in case you don’t have the words memorized from your own childhood, “wa’nt” is how you’re supposed to pronounce “wasn’t.” Don’t worry, #notallmen guys. My mom had a few good men in her life, so I don’t think all men are trash because of my childhood. I think most men are trash from my late-adolescence-through-adulthood.
Back to my Dearest Mumsy. No, I don’t really call her that. But the things she calls me would have you in tears ~ from laughter, confusion, horror, pick one! They all come out of a mother’s love and a Gemini’s creativity. I call her mom, but the point of this post is to try and articulate how much more she is to me. If you go by the already-dead-in-the-ground-and-rotting Traditional American Family Structure, you could say I “lacked” a father and siblings. But if you start with nothing ~ and all of us come into this world naked, alone, and screaming ~ if you start there, it’s easy to see I had a lot with “just” her. So did she with me.
Don’t worry…. I don’t think all men are trash because of my childhood. I think most men are trash from my late-adolescence-through-adulthood.
*I grew up in the ’90s, when whyte people were just getting into “non-traditional” &/or “blended” families. There were stories on TV and in children’s movies about how the rise in divorce and remarriage is making single-parenthood and step-parenting “normal for the first time in western history!” Because nothing is normal until whyte people start doing it (see also, New Kids on the Block, Eminem, big butts (thanks? Vogue?), and hair weaves, just to name a few).
**If you think my relationship with my mom is all Gilmore Girls and Sunshine, wait till you find out how I found out Greg might not be my father! #itgotbetter but it wasn’t pretty for a while.
*** Ok, I paraphrased this part, but they did meet in the navy. The rest is the story I grew up hearing from my mom, word-for-word. MY momma is a BAWSE! She always gon’ BE a bawse. And HER momma was a bawse, too!
Any other survivors of single-parenthood out there have something to say? I’m talking to parents AND children, by the way. Absent moms & dads have a voice here, too. Let’s talk in the comments section, unless you’re afraid to 🙂