Mother’s Day

It seems fitting that on today, Mother’s Day, I write a post about my mother. Mother’s Day is one of the many days throughout the year, meant to bring family together in celebration – even if that family spends most of the time on social media or squaring off in heated or silent family squabbles. Yes, yes, I acknowledge that some holidays were created by greeting card companies for the sole purpose of monetary gain. That doesn’t erase the fact that on these days, families regularly make pilgrimage to come together to honor, thank or celebrate the person(s) who mothered and fathered them.

While both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are painful for me, Mother’s Day is markedly the most painful. There is something almost sacred about the relationship between mothers and daughters. Mother’s Day is an annual reminder that my mother dishonored that bond, almost as soon as I was born. More importantly, the day is a constant reminder that I didn’t have the kind of mother I deserved. I deserved better.

I wasn’t the only child my mother failed. My older sister and I share both parents.  We lived together less than a year before our dad petitioned the court for separation from our mother. The [actual] petition to the court, claims that our mother failed to fulfill her wifely duties, including sewing and keeping house. It goes on to say that neighbors told our dad that she was entertaining another man during the day, while he was away working. And when he confronted her, she said she wasn’t going to stop and there wasn’t anything he could do about it. When a divorce was finally granted – it was done so in his favor. Our mother got custody of me, our dad got custody of my sister, and they both had unstructured, shared cross-visitation. What I’ve read in these documents, provided entirely by my sister, is not the story I got when I was growing up.

When I was 6 our mother remarried. She and her new husband moved to Dallas, with me in tow. She told everyone in Dallas that she had one daughter, me. I corrected her the first few times I heard the error. But quickly learned that it’s ok to lie, if it benefits you and doesn’t hurt others. We saw each other less than ~6 times during our childhood school days.  As a consequence, my sister and I never bonded. Hurt and resentment developed; my mother, her dad, our step-dad. The grass is always greener, isn’t it?

I was ~31 when I entered Trauma Therapy. As the Therapist and I walked through my life in a chronological fashion, I began to see events, but most importantly – people, more objectively. I didn’t know what a ‘normal’ family was. But I suspected mine didn’t qualify. I wasn’t wrong.

As a child, I spent thousands of hours observing my mother’s behavior. Trying to predict, trying to avoid, trying to stop the next eruption of hurtfulness. I did occasionally see glimpses of hope, usually in the form of special gifts or outings. But I quickly learned that these things came with strings. They solidified alliances and assured compliance. As I aged, my mother used IOUs as leverage and control over my life. They gave her the right to say and do anything to me and my children – without penalty.

There’s a difference between being a mother and mothering. My mother gave birth to me. My mother harmed me and put me in harm’s way. She either didn’t notice or she looked the other way. And when I tried to tell her, she wouldn’t acknowledge anything. She made no effort to put me first. To her, if she wasn’t the one being harmed, it didn’t happen or it shouldn’t be worried about. And if it wasn’t about her it wasn’t worth remembering.

What I never saw or felt was true warmth, unconditional love, and acceptance. I never felt like she had my back. Not even once.  It’s not that she didn’t try. It just wasn’t in her. So my mother clearly didn’t mother. Her lack of mothering has had a major impact on my life and my emotional health. The same truth holds true for my sister. I’ve been officially diagnosed (3 times) with Complex-PTSD from Childhood Trauma.  That trauma extended until the time I went NO CONTACT with my mother. I was 46 years old. It’s no secret where my issues come from. My sister is Bipolar. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for my sister to be repeatedly left behind by my mother, and then not mothered at all.

Oh wait, I can.

On Mother’s Day, I mourn the idea of the mother I deserved to have – but didn’t. I mourn for my mother, who will never truly experience what it’s like to be selfless for either of her daughters, her grand-daughters, and her great-grand-daughters. But I do not mourn her absence in my life. These last 8 years have given me the opportunity to truly define who I am as a person and as a woman. I celebrate and thank her for that. And I thank her for giving me life.

On Mother’s Day, I honor my mother-in-law. June was the closest thing to a mother I’ve ever had. She gave me a hard time about the difficult relationship I had with my mother. But 5 minutes after she actually met my mother, June pulled me aside and quietly said, “You poor thing. I’m so sorry about your mother. I’ll be your mother from now on”. And she truly was my mother from that day forward. She mothered me and my children. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, celebrate her love, and mourn her passing.

Happy Mother’s Day Dr. June Ross

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6 thoughts on “Mother’s Day

  1. Wow! Powerful story. I’m sorry that mother’s day is painful for you. Just remember that even though some of us had very painful relationships with our mothers, the greatest triumph is that we did not repeat their failures in how we dealt with our own children. We may have made our mistakes, but not the same ones that hurt us so badly. That cycle was broken.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments. My biggest fear as a mother, was repeating those failures. Becoming like my mother.

      I know I did better than my mother and didn’t repeat her mistakes. That’s a win I am very proud of. I sacrificed, put them first when I could, got help (therapy) to better myself, and tried my best to be supportive yet hands-off once they reached adulthood. I made mistakes too. But nothing that compares to what I experienced for 46 years.

      Indeed, that cycle was broken. I’m still paying the price.

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  2. Good Afternoon, Please don’t block me from reading these. I like to know how you are doing, and what your thoughts are.

    As you know that was not the story that I knew while growing up. One thing about daddy, he never bashed mother at all. Never said a bad word against her. So, when I realized that I could request the [divorce] documents I did. Mostly for my records, to see what was the truth and what was a lie. You know, I have thought about that a lot, and they both were young, and really didn’t need to be married at the time. Considering they were both 17 at the time. If you want them, I also have Ruby (Mawma’s) divorce from Charles McKinna and also from Buck Darby. All you have to do is let me know if you want them for your records. I would like to have mother and Larry’s (from when you were adopted or name changed) and mothers divorce papers from Larry and Robert, if you have copies of them.

    In your blog you wrote “I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for my sister to be repeatedly left behind by my mother, and then not mothered at all.” It felt like a part of me, was torn in two. The week that I came and stayed at the apt. on Kings Highway, Aunt Bennie and Uncle Gene came and saw us. She (mother) told Aunt Bennie that she needed that week to go by soon, so the “Brat”(me) could go back to Memphis. You know, I was mothered by a great grandmother. Yes, I was smothered by attention and other cousins resented me. But my grandmother (Ruby) was a great mother. I learned so much from her, she mothered me in her own way.

    I loved my grandmother, and believe it or not, she loved you. I figured that mother told everyone that she only had 1 daughter. But, it really didn’t matter, since I was rarely in Dallas growing up.

    Hell, AJ’s kids don’t know about mother being married to Robert. I was asked not to say anything about it when I met him in 2010.

    Again, as I said in my letter, you are my sister and I love you. We at least need to work to have a civil relationship. It’s only you and me now. I would love to come to Dallas and see you and talk thru things.

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    1. I’m sorry that our mother has put you in an awful position by asking you to lie. And worse still, this is a lie about HER true past. I spent my childhood doing that: covering up the truth by playing the part of the perfect child. I felt like I was constantly walking a tightrope. I had terrible stomach cramps and spent hours upon hours doubled over in pain. My stomach is where my stress goes to scream.

      You said, “It felt like a part of me was torn in two.” I think that’s the first raw emotion you’ve expressed to me. THIS is how I communicate, in raw emotion. I don’t waste my life dancing around the words I need to say to someone, by saying what is expected of me, or what they’d like to hear. I just tell them the raw truth. Like that. Thank you for sharing that.

      Larry Macon adopted me. Part of that adoption was sealing the court records. So they aren’t available. I’ve actually tried and cannot get them. I think our mother divorced Robert in Las Vegas or Mexico. In any case, she was secretive for a reason: she didn’t want those records to be accessible by others. Her current marriage isn’t the only one founded on a lie, pay close attention to her age in all legal documents. Larry used to kid her about being older than him, and about her dishonesty about her age. It’s not just court error when you see these details aren’t reflected correctly.

      I tried to warn you about her. I didn’t want you to suffer. But then I figured that you were an adult, you didn’t want to listen to me, and I hoped the distance might save you some heartache. Some lessons we just have to learn ourselves. I’m sorry you had to learn them.

      Insofar as you and I are concerned: A relationship with me would not be healthy for ME. I do not allow people, or things, that are unhealthy for me in my life. Period. However, as long as you are civil (as you have demonstrated above) and respect my boundaries, I will treat you with the respect I have for everyone who posts here. If you step out of line, I’ll block your access and I won’t offer you another chance. This is the only thing I can offer you at this time. I am working on my future and squabbling with you does not serve me or my goals in life.

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  3. Hi, Please don’t block me from your blog, It’s my only way to check on you and to see how you are doing.

    I don’t know if you got my card and letter or not. So, I’m hoping that this will get to you.

    I’m glad that you got the documents that I sent you. I also have alot of others, Ruby’s divorce from Charles and Buck Darby. If you have them I would love to have the documents of your change of name, and also mother and Larry’s and Robert’s divorce. I would really like to see what was said.

    I was also told the wrong reason that they got divorced. I was told that it was because of daddy not working and always going hunting. That’s what she told me. At 17 when they got married, I don’t know if they realized that what they were doing. I still can’t find their marriage certificate.

    I did know what it was like to have a mother. Our Grandmother raised me, Not Daddy and definately not Judy. I was disliked by most of the cousins, because she raised me. They thought that I got the better deal. But what alot of them didn’t know was that it was hard living with Mawma. I was always jealous of you, because to me you had the best life. Living in the big city, having a mother and father who loved you. (that’s what I thought). I always looked forward to coming to Dallas, when I was allowed. There was one week, that ya’ll lived in the apts, on Kingshwy, and mother told Aunt Bennie, that she couldn’t wait for the “Brat” to go home. Yes, I knew that she called me that, but it didn’t matter. All I wanted was attention from my mother. And after 55 almost 56, I still don’t have that.

    She is keeping alot of secrets at this time also. AJ’s children still don’t know that she was married to Robert.
    They thought it was best not to tell them of that. I was asked not to say anything about it when I went to visit in 2010. But, that’s her life, and she’s the one who is going to face the questions if they ever find out.

    I’m going to stop this for now. Again, what I said in my letter to you. I’m your sister and I will always love you. Even if you don’t want to have a relationship, I’m still here for you. And you have my number if you ever want to talk.

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    1. I don’t plan to block you from my blog. In fact, I’ve even unblocked you on FaceBook.

      As far as meeting up goes, I spend a minimum of three days a month in Austin, it’s my second city – the city where I apprentice with my teacher. In October, I’ve already spent 11 days in Austin. And as I type this, I’m on the tarmac at DFW, waiting to depart for four days in Madison, WI. So, as you can see, you may fly through DFW, but that comes no where near meaning I’ll be in North Texas or even in the state.

      However, if I am in DFW when you come through, I’m receptive to meeting you. I must warn you, I WILL NOT speak specifics about my children or their families. They lead private and independent lives and I would never betray that trust.

      I must go, as it’s Airplane Mode time and time for a protection mantra and some quality meditation time.

      – Pamela
      Shamanic Solutions of North Texas

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