Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mother, the Word


No other single word has ever changed my life so much.

First, of course, I had a mother, and then I didn't. She left the family when I was twelve years old, just at that age when a girl needs her mother so much. I was followed by two sisters who had me as a mother figure. I was inadequate, but extremely well-intentioned with them. In all honestly, I can't remember alot of those days. Mostly I remember the congested, wordlessness of the intention We Will Not Miss Her.

Second, I was living under the roof of a man who honestly saw women as either virgins or whores. He also was left by my mother; I promise you, his anger and derision toward women did not fade away for years. My sisters and I internalized an odd identity of woman, and, by extension, mother.

Then, third, at the age of nineteen I found myself pregnant and, in no way, supported enough to become a mother. I made a plan of adoption for that beautiful girl. I have missed her every day since then.

No birth parent can adequately explain "why" they did it or what it feels like to not raise one's own child. It is a pain I will never be absent of, that truth that I would not be the best parent for her. She is, now, a mother herself. I had high hopes that these years would bring about a longing in her to want to meet me. Alas, that has not come to pass. So we all live with this decision having been made so long ago, no way to breach the gap.

Fourth, many years later, I became a stepmother to two children. Two children that were (and are) amazing human beings! I profoundly felt the need to mother them. However, I was not their mother. Their wonderful mom is their mother. I did everything in my power to be the best stepmother I could be.  I love them deeply and truly.

Finally, at the age of 33, I became a mother.

Nothing, I mean NOTHING, could prepare me for that experience!  I thought I would understand what it was like. I thought "I've got this one in the bag!" I thought I would be all-organic, all cloth diapers, all patient, all loving, all angelic. I thought I would be just one step below Carol Brady.

As a woman about to enter her fifties soon, it might seem that the word MOTHER would have lost it's power to me. It is still a mystery, a mystic thing, and a mission for me.


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  1. a lovely story, i applaud your ability to put your story out here for everyone. Thank you for letting us share it with you. <3

  2. Feel privileged to read this. Thank you, Karen.

  3. Oh Karen, there are tears streaming down my face.
    So beautiful.


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