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05 May 2009

Mother's Day is coming - run for the hills!

I mean that literally!

When we first began attending our church, i told the pastor that i've had issues with Mother's Day for many years & had stopped attending church that day. He told me (two years ago) he wouldn't be giving a homily on Mother's Day, the subject would be something else. And that they gave all women coming to church that day a flower regardless of their "mother" status.

Well, yes, that was true two years ago, but it was not true last year. And Father's Day disturbed Duane as well. So we have decided to forgo church on those days. Sunday we are planning to make a picnic lunch (no point it trying to eat out that day) & take it on a trip over the mountains. I don't know if we'll go toward Glass Canyon or Holcomb Valley, but we plan to have fun.

As i have said before, i've wanted to be a mama for a long, long time
. I was fantasizing about it before i was physically able to have a child. So, already by my late teens Mother's Day was hard for me as i so wanted to be a mama.

But also has been hard for me because i have a hard time honoring my own mother. Mother's Day could take a special meaning for me if i could think warm & fuzzy thoughts about the woman who brought me into the world. However . . .

This is going to be kind of ugly.

I'm not going to touch on my childhood. I'm going to talk of things that happened when i was an adult. I graduated HS on my 18th birthday, & was gone 2 weeks later. Except for the very occasional over night stay (one Christmas Eve) or the 3 weeks my parents went to Europe & i stayed with my sisters while they were gone, i didn't stay/visit at their home for many years.

My mother was very controlling without good boundaries when i was a child. She really struggled with the letting go when i moved away. I was told some years later, not at the time, that she would call my work (i was a nanny) in the evening & ask where i was. "She's not answering her phone at home. Where has she gone? Who is she with?"

My mother would drop by the house where i was a day time nanny. One day she came to the door. She had her hands behind her back & a funny smile i'd come to know & distrust on her face.

"You'll never guess what i found at the house today," she told me. I was backing up quickly by this point. She followed me into the house. "THIS is what i found." She swiftly brought out a jar with a black widow spider contained & stuck it about 2 inches from my nose.

I backed up quickly & she followed me, putting it in my face again. "Aren't they interesting?" I backed up again quickly, & she followed. "Do you see the red fiddle on her abdomen?"

At this point in time, i kind of "blacked out" my memory, which happened often those days. But there was a witness to this. The mama of "my" baby for whom i was nanny happened to be home for lunch. She has told me it was the funniest thing she had ever seen. Both funny in laugh meter & funny as bizarre. My mother chased me around that living room with the spider for about 5 minutes.

I don't remember if i had a spider phobia before that - i probably did - but it was severe after that time. I'm over it now, but whoa!

When my parents planned a trip to Europe, my mother told me she "couldn't go" if i would not comply with her wishes to meet with a pastor.

It feels strange even to write that now, for the two things are not even related. If she said something like that to me a few years later i would have learned to say, "Gee, i'm really sad that you would choose not to take a trip to Europe when you have the chance. That's too bad. But it is your choice."

I complied with her wishes & saw this pastor. He told me i was demon possessed & needed to obey my parents. I needed to see him weekly for counseling & exorcism. I declined to continue that relationship.

The Christian Women's Club i was a part of had a mother/daughter banquet that year. I invited my mother. But i was also there with someone who was my mother's mentor, & her daughter-in-law, Betty, who is the woman who is my mentor/spiritual mama. I love her dearly, but my mother does not. I had made a very pretty dress for that banquet. It was strapless, but modest. Again, my memory is mostly blacked out, but "my mama" tells me that mother belittled me throughout the entire meal & program. Largely because of the dress.

I do remember the end of the program. The speaker had been talking about how we are often like our own mothers. We got up to leave & my mother said, "I surely hope i am not like my mother. There would be nothing worse.
That really scares me." I didn't know how to respond to that statement. Thinking about the whole evening & how i had been treated what could i say to that? Didn't feel like i could say, "Damn mother, it scares me too!" But that is what i was thinking.

My mother also took "my mama" Betty to lunch once & told her why her influence on me was so bad & that she should no longer have anything to do with me. I was not told of that conversation then. When Betty told me of it a few years later she said, "I had always assumed you had had a typical unhappy childhood & felt misunderstood. You had never said much about your childhood & when you did i assumed you were exaggerating somewhat. I changed my mind that day. If she could try to be that manipulative with me, i can't imagine what she was like to you as a child."

I moved away. Met the guy who became my first husband. When i called m
y mother to tell her i wanted a June wedding, her response was, "We'll be out of town then."

We moved to CA & were married justice of the peace style.

I had a couple of old dolls i'd inherited. They were from between
1895 & 1910, bisque head dolls with paper mache bodies. True antiques. Mother told me there were some dolls my aunts didn't want, would i like them? She did tell me they were not in good condition.

"Sure" i said, "send them along."

Opening that box was like opening something from a horror show. The dolls were rubber or plastic that had split, cracked, & fallen apart. The stuffing from part of them was leaking out, & the dolls were sticky like honey had been poured over them. I've never seen something as disgusting & disturbing in my life.

Another time she sent me a "care package." She'd poured a bag of jelly beans into a jar & it was half full. She wrapped up everything very carefully. But on top of everything she put a very delicate, fragile decorative glass cup. She did not wrap or protect that in any way so that when the box arrived sharp thin splinters of glass were blanketed over the top of the wrapped items & the shards had settled into every nook & cranny.

The last issue that comes to mind is something i'm not sure of. When i graduated from college i did everything short of being rude to my parents by telling them blankly that i did not want them to come. I tried over & over to let them know that i would not welcome their attendance. They didn't listen. So they came. I don't remember that week very clearly, either. I "shut down" in order to survive.

My mother brought a package for me, but again she had that odd smile that i don't trust. She had brought me a magnolia blossom (here in So. Cal we had them blooming everywhere). She had wrapped it in damp paper towels, & had it in a weird vegetable box.

By that time i was being very cautious about her gifts. I put it in the car & later tossed it in the garbage. The next day i had a huge red spot like a bug or spider bite on my knee cap. It looked so bizarre that i took a pen & traced the edges. The first day it was about 2 inches in diameter. The day after that it had grown to about 4 inches, but it didn't grow more than that. I believe it was because the point of origin was over the bone of my knee cap & not over muscle & other fiber. If it had been i think it would have been very serious indeed. And when she saw it, my mother made a really big deal about it.

As i said, there is nothing conclusive about this. In fact, any of these incidents taken alone is not much. But it is a pattern that continued for a long time. And, it was a pattern that grew out of the strange things that happened when i was a child. And in most of these adult incidents i had witnesses. The friend i showed that box of dolls was more horrified than i.

Things are not so bad now. My mother has mellowed. She could have made my wedding day to the most wonderful Mr. Duane a living nightmare, but she did not. She tries to be supportive & normal. I try to honor her as best i can.

We are a month out, now, from when we will be visiting them. Already i'm beginning to be anxious. I usually can do well, but if i have too long a phone conversation with her i find myself hyperventilating or wanting to bang my head against a wall.

I can't do anything about it. We are going. Getting anxious in advance doesn't help. I try not to think about it too much.

And, in her defence, my mother had a pretty miserable childhood herself.

This is really long. I've been writing long posts. Guess i've a lot swimming around my head. Thanks for listening!

The pics are from a summer green Kentucky, where we will be headed soon. I do have pleasant memories of spending summers playing with my cousins both in KY & TN. (Get my long lost Southern accent polished!)

The beautiful pics are of KY, my sis took them in Aug 2007. Thank you Sis #3!



Laurie in Ca. said...

Hi Kathryn,

Thank you so much for visiting my blog today. I have been reading some of your posts and hope to get more read soon. Your post about your relationship with your mom really hit my heart. I didn't have a good relationship with my mom, for different reasons, but it still hurts. In the beginning days of my blog, I shared about my childhood. I am not sure which post it was but if you are interested, I can lead you to it. I love your pictures and the fact that you live in Big Bear here in Ca. It is so peaceful and beautiful up there. I hope you come visit me again and I am praying that you keep hope in your dream of being a mom. I think you would make a wonderful one again. Sorry this is long but I love meeting new friends here. I will pray for your trip back home to be peaceful for you. Have a wonderful evening with your honey:)

Love and Hugs, Laurie

byhisgracealone said...

Where in KY/TN do you visit?

Opus Gluei Poobahs said...

I think you have good reason to be wary - do you really have to go?

I know I'm a wiseacre most of the time, but I do know how hard Mother's Day can be when you want to be a mom. I always thought it would happen and when it didn't, I felt lost and betrayed and cheated.

I get through it now by focusing on my mother in law and my mom, and trying NOT to think about the 800 lb. gorilla in the corner of the room (mine has a wicked chip on her shoulder sometimes)

I feel for you, Kathryn, I really do. I don't know if they comes through when I leave one of my novellas here in the comments section - but I do.


Stacey said...

I've made it a point to have other plans on Mother's Day instead of attending a church service. Church is important to me, but it's too hard to sit through a service like that right now. I totally "get" that and think your picnic is a great idea!

I honestly don't know what to say after reading the stories about your mother. I only know to say I'm sorry, and to mean it from the bottom of my heart.

Bob-kat said...

I honestly don't know what to say. My mother had and has issues but nothing compared to what you have had to endure. Your plan to get away and have a picnic for those days sounds excellent so I hope the weather is very kind for you.

Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and prayers. I appreciate them very much.

Anonymous said...


I'm so happy you shared that story. I cannot believe what you have been through. I could never imagine being treated that way, especially by your own Mother. I'm so deeply sorry for what you've endured! It almost sounded like a creepy movie to me. Have you ever thought about writing a book about your childhood days?? You have a way with words and you kept me interested. I also could feel your emotions.
I also have Family in TN. That's where my Father was born and raised. So, 1/2 of my HUGE Family lives in Crossville. I visit on Christmas almost every year. What a beautiful place.
I also wanted to compliment on your beautiful pictures. They're so amazing!

Again Thank You for sharing and be careful while visiting your Mother.


WannabeMommy said...

Wow. Your mom sounds pretty disturbed. I feel so bad for you, having to see her. Protect your feelings first, always... good luck.

Anonymous said...

I found my way to your post via Pioneer Woman. I'm glad I did. I'm sorry that your relationship with your mother is so difficult. I feel sorry for her too, she seems mentally troubled and is destroying a most precious gift, the love between a mother and daughter.

We have two daughters. They both live far from us, one in South Carolina and one in Big Bear (small world!). I miss them terribly and hope and pray that the small and large things I did as a mother when they were little don't haunt them now. I tried to be a good mother but was awfully selfish at times.

My daughter who lives in Big Bear belongs to the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart...they have a Retreat Camp there, you may know of them. They have wonderful retreats for women. If you feel the Spirit moving you, you may want to attend.

You may never have a "good" relationship with your Mother, but forgiving her for her ugliness may free you from some of the "demons" she has saddled you with. God bless you dear.
From Gina in Denver