Friday, June 05, 2009

My Mother

I've been thinking a lot about my mother recently. If it seems like she's in the back of my head a lot it's because she is. Part of the reason for this post is a sense of balance, I don't like the feeling that I haven't told the whole story. Part of it is because it was Mother's Day in America recently and I hate that some years I have no choice but to ignore the holiday entirely.

Another (HUGE) reason is the fact that my mother's little sister, my (at one-time favourite) aunt friended me on Facebook, which means I'm one email away from contacting my mother. And a lot of it has to do with a change within myself. My mother had children very young, like I did, and she experiences a great number sad and terrible things. I've been trying to see through her eyes, to reason why she did certain things, why she made the choices and decisions that she did.

I really wish that I knew her better, but I'm afraid as well. Afraid to open a part of my heart that's been shut for so long. I don't want to be disappointed further, I don't want to be hurt again. But is the alternative any better? Is there an alternative to that? I know I don't have all the facts, I know that I have had a negative slant thrown on everything I know about her. But I've grown up believing a certain thing and I wonder how much that knowledge has shaped the person that I've become? There's only one way to find out. Send that email. Get her phone number. Talk to her, ask her questions. Open up and share my life with her. Am I ready for that? I don't know.

I don't have any photos of her before these. There's so much more to this story, but this is what I know that is the truth. I know she grew up on a Tlingit reservation in Alaska as the youngest but one in a family of 11 children. Alcoholism claimed many in her family, including herself. She dropped out of high school (like me). She married at 18 (like me). Her first husband went to prison. She was living in Seattle when she met my dad. He worked in the apartment building she lived in and he fell in love with my brother, David, who was only five months old. She was 18 when she had David, only 20 when I was born.

When the two of us were still young, she went back to school to get some qualifications (like me). She worked in low-paying, unskilled work. Factories mostly, usually the night shifts. She didn't learn to drive until she was in her mid 20s (like me). When I was 10, doctors told her that she may have ovarian cancer, but they turned out to be a huge number of cysts on her ovaries. Her ovaries were removed followed shortly by a full hysterectomy. She was only 30 at the time.

Despite all the things we said and did to hurt each other over the years, I still believe that she wanted better things for me than she had herself. She sent me packages when both of my boys were born. She liked the idea of being a grandma.

She's made terrible mistakes in her romantic partners. Terrible ones, that affected my life and my opinions of her. It'll take a lot for me to get past what those mistakes cost me. Aside from that, she went back to studying, worked hard to get a good job, built a life for herself. She's spent a great deal of time caring for her elderly father. She's taken in her sister's kids so they wouldn't be put into care. As far as I know, she's remained sober for my entire life.

In many ways, I'm proud of her but my feelings about her will always be more complicated than that. Any one emotion will always be connected with sadness, pain and disappointment.


  1. Hang in there. You will know when you are really ready to contact her. I know that you have struggled with her over the years. It will be ok!

  2. I can't really imagine how hard it must be for you. I'm sure you'll come to the right decision soon, and whatever happens you have a loving, supporting family to help you through it. Good luck.

  3. It sounds like she has tried hard to put her life back on track. I know it must be a very hard decision for you to make, but make it with your heart and you will definitely make the right choice as to whether to contact her.

    PS Don't worry too much about the book, I thought I was too late and had missed out.

  4. Contact with your mum would be a big step no one can deny that. Just take evrything that comes your way one step at a time. You know what is best for you, you know what you want.

    It does ound like she has tried very hard to make up for her mistakes. I do believe you cant heal everything but at the same time im sure she would turn back time and change everything if she could.

    Big hugs michelle xx

  5. Only you can decide if you're ready to know more by asking those questions, even if it turns out differently than you imagine. But it could be very freeing, to have more understanding.

  6. this was so incredibly raw. My heart is just reaching out to you. No one can know what's right, or when, but you... But good for you, for opening up and talking about it.

  7. This sounds like a very difficult story to share with the world but you did so in a very eloquent way and I admire you for that. I think you're one step closer to what you really want out of this. I have a feeling that only good will come of your efforts.


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