Another Mothers Day Blog

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20170329_173218I don’t have the spoons to write a big Mother’s Day blog this year.

Mother’s Day is one of the rough ones for me. Honestly, ALL of the, “in your face commercialized holidays” are rough when you have painful family issues. It’s probably just as well, I’m still recovering and slept through the whole day. I missed most of the cheery, teary sugar and schmaltz and that’s just fine with me.

 
Some people I know and care about lost moms recently. Some have mothers who had health scares or were in the hospital this year. I want to send extra love to those who are missing their mothers and to those for whom Mother’s Day has extra meaning because they weren’t sure there mother’s would be here this year.
 

As always, I want to acknowledge those for whom Mother’s Day hurts because their relationship with their mother is/was difficult, terrible or absent. I want to acknowledge those mother’s who pulled out all the stops to love and protect their child but lost them anyway through death, drugs, mental illness or just emotional distance. I want to shout out to all the heroic parents who have had to be both Mom and Dad to their kids. And I want to give a big hug to all those Moms whose kids happen to be furry, feathered or scaled. You aren’t less than because you chose to nurture a pet rather than pop out a hooman. You have your reasons. It’s cool. Maternal love doesn’t discriminate.
 
Stand in Mom’s who were that positive support or maternal figure in the lives of many kids (and adults) who were missing what they needed; to you I give enormous respect. YOU are the lifesavers! Jennifer and Jolene‘s mama, JoAnn was this to me. I could not have survived my childhood without her. She fed me, let me tag along on family adventures, she tolerated my weirdness, she let me spend hours and hours away from home. I’m quite sure we drove her crazy sometimes. I practically lived at the Norton house for much of my childhood and it was a sanctuary. As an adult, I’ve been lucky enough to have several friends who also rocked the mom vibe with me because they just ooze compassion and maternal instinct. Cheryl, Jean, Linda and Libby come to mind. *blows big kisses* If you have had a good mother and also, stand in mamas in your life, you are doubly blessed!
 
To the almost parents, I know how difficult this day can be, whether you have gone on to have kids or not. I was an almost parent and oddly, this year, I’m going through a numbness, instead of that twinge of grief. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a little time but maybe it’s because it would have been nearly impossible to raise a kid in my current situation. Losing a child you are pregnant with or one you wanted to adopt are very complicated situations to process. So is losing a child for any reason at any age. There’s no right way or wrong way to do it.
 
To those who desperately want to be parents but haven’t been able to do it for whatever reason, I wish you comfort. I also wish that those of you who are so set on popping a kid out of your own womb with your own genetic material would stop spending so much money and shedding so many tears and just adopt. But if you won’t, I pray that you are really good parents when you finally get your wish.
 
And most of all, I wish that Mothers would not be treasured just because they are Mothers, but that they would all earn these accolades. I don’t want you to be perfect. I want you to live up to what a mother should be as best you can; a person who loves, nurtures, supports, protects and guides their child. A good mother, in my opinion, does not have children and make their existence all about her or try to force them into her idea of the kids she wanted. She realizes that sometimes you can do all those things and still feel like you failed.She realizes that you don’t always get what you expect, you work with what you have and love them anyway. And sometimes that love means letting go in many different ways. 
 
Motherhood is complicated. Our feelings about it are complicated. You can’t serve it breakfast in bed, slap a card on it, give it flowers and platitudes and think you’ve done it justice. It’s also not sacred. Many people are victims of Motherhood, whether it’s the child whose mother had unrealistic expectations, or had a mother who struggled with mental illness, addiction, poverty or simply as dealt more than she could handle or the child whose mother was a monster.
So, lavish the praise on your mother if she’s earned it, but don’t heap guilt on those who had a different experience. And please be gentle with those who are having trouble with this day, whatever their reason.
 
I am so very happy for the friends out there who have benefited from the love of a mother who made them feel supported and cherished! I am so grateful for all those mother figures in my life and to look around and see mothers who are doing right by their kids right now. I stand in awe of all the friends I see being amazing parents every day despite their challenges. I have many of them, which means, many kids who are growing up with a better outlook than I had. I hope all of you enjoy this special day. Even more so, I hope all of you feel appreciated and loved all year round. It’s the days that don’t have a spotlight on them that mean the most.
 
Oh hey, I wrote a blog after all. Oops.

 

Beasts of No Nation

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“Sun, why are you shining on this world? I am wanting to catch you in my hands, to squeeze you until you cannot shine no more. That way, everything is always dark and nobody is ever having to see all the terrible things that are happening here”

-Agu (Beasts of No Nation)

Beasts-of-No-Nation

I made it a good way through the film as a witness, without shedding a tear until this haunting monologue, exquisitely executed by young marvel, Abraham Attah. I hope we are going to get to see more of this brilliant young actor who holds his own with Idris Elba!

I’m not going to go into the plot of this film much as it’s pretty straight forward. Like the novel, it describes the loss of innocence and experiences of a child soldier in Africa, like those of the, “Lost Boys.”  What I will say is this. You MUST, must see this film!

Beasts of No Nation is showing in the smaller arthouse theaters and you can also see it on Netflix! Netflix produced this film. It is breathtakingly beautiful, hopeful and heart crushing. The acting is superb. It’s not easy to watch, but it’s well worth your time and you won’t feel emotionally manipulated or as if you’ve been shown violence or gore for the sake of it. The violence is not gratuitously graphic. Neither is it glossed over.

As someone whose childhood horrors forged my PTSD, I have so much empathy for these child soldiers who are ripped from their families and molded into monsters. You do what you have to do to survive and if you are tenacious, lucky and can hold on to some of the better pieces of you humanity you come out the other side with the ability to be happy.

Thank you Netflix for adapting this novel by Uzodinma Iweala. Even though the country and conflict are fictional the turmoil and circumstances are very real in some parts of Africa. I hope the film makes more people have compassion, awareness and to desire an understanding of situations in other countries that we like to pretend aren’t our problem or don’t affect us. And bravo to Netflix, not only for tackling a subject that is not pretty but is also not about white people. How marvelous to see a film, and an important one at that, about people of color where white people haven’t been injected into it! Huzzah!

Here is the trailer for Beasts of No Nation

Really, go see this film or watch it at home! That is all!

Trickle

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desert
I am weary of being scared. Fear is simultaneously very real and just plain pointless. Fear is a bully!
 
Freedom is at once with me and illusive. I would like to be free but freedom without the means to choose my situation is just another kind of trap. I keep thinking there has to be a way; a way out, a way ahead, a way through or even a way to accept, Yes, I keep thinking there has to be a way, but I have not found it yet,
 
I keep thinking if I was younger, prettier, more energetic and able; if I was less ethical I might be able to use those things to my advantage. However, I am not any of those things.
 
I have tools. I lay out the tools I have on the table in front of me but my fingers merely fumble with most of them.
 
I look back over my shoulder into that dark and treacherous place and I refuse to go back. I look forward into the shifting fog. I look up at the blinding sun. I look down at my feet and I can for fleeting moments I can feel my roots. I am strong and grounded. Then the earth cracks, breaks and rumbles to remind me that it is difficult to keep my balance. I look inward at my wounds, some healing, some tenaciously festering and I see where I have been. It is a place and time where angels covered their ears and would not tread.
 
I find myself marvelling at all the brutality I survived with astonishing resilience. How did I manage to keep opening up my heart? How did I determine to keep trying to trust, to forgive, to love? Yet, now my heart finally closes, hardens, becomes wary, cynical over much smaller offenses! The clock is winding down and I have more happiness yet more frustration than ever before.
 
All I ever wanted was to be loved and cared for. All I ever wanted was to give love, to share, to help others by word, deed and through my art and music. I wanted to let all this creativity and care flow to the ocean in a torrent but all I can do is let it trickle through a straw in the hopes that someone who is thirsty will find it and drink.
 
-LM September, 2015

The Murkiness of Mother’s Day

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roseThree Little Words:

“Happy Mother’s Day.”

What comes to mind when they fill up the airwaves, the social media feed, every brick and mortar store, restaurant and retail web site.

To be sure, Mother’s Day is a loaded topic and a marketing paradise!

There is so much myth and propaganda about Motherhood in general. Mothers are raised on a pedestal and then disrespected because they don’t have a “real job.” Motherhood is supposed to be compensation enough.

There are those who bicker about what makes a mother. Does she have to carry and birth a child? Does a mother have to be a cis gendered female? There are those who seem to think that having given birth to a child makes them somehow superior to those who have not. Mothers are both revered and dismissed, sometimes in the same breath, sometimes in a schism between word and action. Motherhood is supposed to complete a woman. Motherhood is for women who have no ambition. There is both contempt and admiration for the working mother.

Really, it’s quite bizarre!

Mother’s Day makes some feel warm and fuzzy others bereft with longing and loss.

It can be a guilt bomb, a trigger that floods the brain with paralyzing memories of trauma!

For those who have happy memories and good relationships with their mothers it can be very hard to understand why someone else might feel differently. For mother’s basking in the glow of appreciation it might be difficult to understand why some might dread the day.

Personally, I take Mother’s Day for mostly the hallmark contrived consumer manipulating holiday that it is. I have my own personal, quite painful issues with Mothers Day, but that aside, this day brings up feelings and ruminations about motherhood in general and its connotations. Sincerely, to all the compassionate, loving, yet tough as nails mothers of all genders and types out there, you are a blessing! And for those who were blessed to have one or more wonderful, supportive, nurturing people in your lives I am glad for that! And to the many amazing people who survived their mothers and make the world a better place despite them, perhaps by finding something inside themselves or by the intervention of non traditional mother figures, I say HUZZAH!

But the holiday, in my opinion can truly go stuff itself. Ironically, “The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. Jarvis would later denounce the holiday’s commercialization and spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar.” (from History.com) I have linked the page at the end of this post if you would like to learn more about the history of Mother’s Day and celebrations of mothers in many cultures.

I think mothers, not those that live up to the ideal, but real flesh and blood complicated people who do the things that make little humans grow up to be good people and continue to help adults “adult with value” are amazing! I dislike the American Mother’s Day tradition and I am frequently vexed by those who feel one must forgive, love and respect one’s mother no matter what crimes she may have committed under the facade of motherhood!  In my opinion those who say things like, “But she’s your mother,” “You have to forgive your mother, you won’t be ok until you do,” “You only have one mother,” or “I’m sure she did the best she could,” are either just so uncomfortable that they want to gloss over a painful topic or somehow they feel a friend’s healthy (yes I said healthy) vitriol toward an abusive parent threatens their feelings about the relationship with their own parent. It’s similar to the friend who somehow thinks that it’s a comment on their relationship if someone close to them breaks off a relationship no matter how valid the reason.

On this day I’d like to challenge you to take pause and reflect. Anyone with a womb can give birth to a child. Anyone can want a child. Anyone can raise a child. But not everyone can be a mother. Those people who do it well are the real rock stars. They are absolute Super Heroes! They can be birth mothers, adoptive or step mothers, friends, relatives, strangers. They can be transwomen. They do not have to be “women” at all. These “mothers” make a difference in lives.Sometimes they save them.

Here are some of the people I think about and send my love to every day, but especially on this day:

  • Those mothers and to those who have filled in as mother figures who have truly exemplified the best of motherhood, who have been supportive and nurturing and in doing so made this world a better place.
  • Those fathers who found they needed to be both mother and father to their children and busted their ass to make their children feel loved and safe!
  • Those children who needed the love and support of their parents but found themselves instead in abusive homes or had Mothers who lacked compassion when they needed it most, because they were L.G.B.T., had a disability, or were in any way different from the ideal “norm” their mother had envisioned. Those whose mothers chose politics, belief, religion or other people’s opinions over the love and acceptance of their child.
  • Those who longed to be mothers, who lost babies, who outlived their children, lost contact with children through a breakup or divorce, had to give them up or who made difficult choices because of circumstance.
  • Those who decided not to have kids and in doing so lived their dreams, inspired and loved kids that were not their own or simply lived their own happy, child free lives despite the criticism of others.
  • For those “aunties” and “uncles” who fulfilled nurture when it was otherwise absent or provided extra love and encouragement!
  • Those mothers who have done everything they can, spilling out their hearts, using all their inner and outer resources, asked for help yet still struggle with children with health, behavioral or substance abuse problems or have lost their relationship with or physical custody of their children despite being good mothers. It doesn’t always work. It just doesn’t.
  • Those who have lost or are losing mothers and mourn their deaths.
  • Those who have unwanted distances, physical and otherwise in their mother/child relationships.
  • Those who never knew their mothers, who never really had mothers, who were abused by their mothers, who have difficult relationships with their mothers for a variety of reasons.
  • Those who look in the mirror and see their mother, see themselves making gestures their mother did or acting like their mother; perhaps taking comfort in these inherited mannerisms, perhaps loathing them.

So, while you are taking part in the commercialized celebration of motherhood; if you had a happy childhood, if you love, respect and have a good relationship with your mother, know that not everyone is so lucky. Instead of criticizing people who don’t share your good associations or dumping guilt on them, be compassionate. Try to remember that this day is a painful reminder to many for a variety of reasons. Not just those who have had abusive mothers but for those who are far away from their mothers, whose mothers may have dementia, whose mothers may be dying or deceased, who may have never known their mothers or may long to be mothers and have a great deal if pain around the subject. To all those I have listed above and more, it can be very, very hard!

On a very personal level, I  could be entirely bitter and yes, all the Mother’s Day saccharine does sting. I was adopted which makes the childhood I had all the more  disheartening. I may never know my birth mother or family. I am currently estranged from my adoptive mother and I am aware that my silence on this day.probably hurts her. I have compassion for that, however I could logically say, it is a fair, “punishment.” It’s not meant as a punishment. It is self care on my part. Right now. I need distance.

Though she vehemently denies it, I believe my mother was a victim of abuse who continued the legacy instead of rising above it. She put her children in harms way instead of protecting them! No child should ever have to endure what I have in my childhood and adult life due to their parents and family, period.

I never had a real mother figure in my life though I certainly had people who made a positive difference. I never wanted a child, perhaps partly due to my traumatic childhood and I never felt my life would be lacking if I didn’t have one. I have loved many children. I helped raise two dear girls when I was young only to have them yanked out of my life by their unstable drug addicted mother. I was surprised by an accidental pregnancy a few years ago and lost that baby when I was quite far along. So yeah. All things “mother” are complicated for me.

So while parts of me are cynical, despise the commercialism, find the subject painful.and often cause for righteous anger when people who do not understand try to make me feel guilty I am also filled with respect and awe for the mothers and mother figures I see around me who often thanklessly improve the lives of not just their own children but many more. They are a blessing to the world and all too briefly!

So try to be sensitive while celebrating. And if you really love and respect your own mother or mother figures in your life, let them know it now. Let them know frequently! Don’t just wait for Mother’s Day, Christmas, holidays or birthdays! Don’t wait until they are gone to praise them. Don’t leave things unsaid.

For those people who have filled this place in your life consider making every day a Happy Mother’s Day.

Here are a few blogs and articles that I found touching or interesting this past week:

The History of Mother’s Day

Some wonderful comments from author (and mother) Anne Lamott about why she hates Mother’s Day

Is being a mother a real job?

Mother’s day, when you may not be perceived as a mother

Mother’s Day as a Feminist tradition!

Letting go of toxic Mom’s and finding healthy replacements

Honestly Grieving

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Anger has stolen my tears
Or maybe it was the distraction of that side show magician
His assistant the pickpocket
Rifling through my grief
While the acrobats in shiny silver costumes
Swing on trapezes of dubious construction

In his red tails and towering top hat
The ring master whispers
Don’t look in the corners
Where the dust has collected
And the real side show horrors live
That’s where all the tricksters are locked up
So they can’t make you laugh
Or unveil the truth

No. No. Follow the sound of my voice
This pretty obfuscation swinging makes you sleepy, does it not?
And if you look or listen long enough he starts to seem quite sensible
You’ll be quite ashamed you ever questioned his bonafides

He will congratulate himself on his showmanship
Another sucker sold

But if you’re brave enough to really look
With both your eyes
And what’s left of your heart
Like I did
You’ll see the bears are really tiny dogs
The lions have no teeth
The tigers are declawed
But the elephants, they never forget
They trumpet the truth
Always
Even when it means a hook in the side
Or a heavy chain embedded in their foot.

And if that doesn’t make you angry
Or fill your veins with righteous venom, what will?

Let it out, speak the truth
For the elephants who remember
And the tricksters who would show you that the sun doesn’t make the shadows
That shame is slight of hand
Blame is artifice
Wrong is wrong

I’ll speak the truth and the circus won’t like it.
They’ll make a circus out of it
A melancholy melodrama
You do me wrong they’ll cry
But then the wolf will come along
And I’ll have my tears back!

-LM 2014
In respectful memory, hail & farewell to my big brother, Mike!
As all shadows fall away may he bask in the sunlight.Image