Monday, February 23, 2009


I was just reading Phoebe's post about looking for a mommy-mentor, and about the lostness of a woman who wants to be a mommy but never really had a mommy herself.

I know how that feels. My mother isn't just unavailable as a mommy mentor (and I doubt I can one-up Phoebe on this score), she was unavailable as a mommy. I'm not a doctor, but I feel I can get a handle on the sufferings and brokenness of most of the people around me I know at all. You can see the crack, the fissure, when the blow was struck, the vulnerable spot around which the rest of the person twists and splinters. We're most all broken; some more dramatically, or more interestingly, than others. I have just a few friends who I would say are, really, un-broken. They're fascinating in their calm, their self-possession, their selves. Anyway. I have no handle on what's wrong with my mother. They diagnosed her with schizophrenia, recently, and that's not a bad fit; she's not fully in touch with reality. But it isn't a perfect fit, either. know it's something from her childhood, and there's no way to get an objective view of someone else's childhood; each of her siblings tells the story a different way and though I have an idea how it was, who will ever know how it was in her head? But I don't even have a good working hypothesis. I don't know.

I don't have an ache for a mommy. I should have. People who had loving mommies sometimes who were drunk other times, or in rages other times, I understand they long for a loving mother. My mother was surely in rages sometimes (she didn't drink), and was better other times. She did a lot of things right, in terms of making decisions for raising us. She taught me to read when I was four, and that may have had more of an effect on where the rest of my life would go than anything else since. She made a lot of terrible decisions too. But I don't remember a time - not a split second as far back as my memory goes, and I remember a lot of things before I was five, some even younger - when I felt loved by my mother. And so, I guess I don't know what's there to miss.

It should mean I'm incapable of being a mother, right? I mean, you read that, you worry for my future children. (Fear not - there may be no such children to worry about.) I don't know that that's true. I'm not warm, precisely, or certainly not all the time. But I'm sensible, responsible, disciplined, consistent; I make sacrifices to care for others; I'm loyal and I forgive readily; I'm protective and defensive of the weak. I like babies, I'm kind to them and attentive. I've always taken on the sickest of our animals as my pets; I was maybe ten when I fed the starving kitten out of my small allowance after my mother threatened to drown her (she wouldn't stop crying, because she couldn't eat the dry food and she was so hungry), and the animals loved me devotedly as a result. (My mother got the last laugh there though - she had that cat, a wonderful loving lapdog of a creature who was still a good mouser at fourteen and no trouble to anyone at all, put to sleep rather than looking for a new home for her, because she was moving out of state. She also lied about it to my sister and me; either of us would have taken her in. I know she's mentally ill, but that's not a product of mental illness, and I'm not sure she deserves to be forgiven for it. So I suppose I don't always forgive readily.) I'm no sociopath - though I can see how that would be misconstrued in view of the tone of this post...

I had a point, starting this post. I gave myself away up there, in the title. Heaven knows I ought to, but I've never longed for a mother's love. Maybe I would be closer to the Blessed Mother, if I did; I feel reasonably close to her even so. But I've had one longing for a long time, becoming more clear to me as I grew older - for a home. I fought through the longing eventually, a few years ago I suppose; I'm not sure I noticed it when it faded, but I stopped thinking about it constantly, and maybe the places I've lived recently have made it better; they're not bad places to call home temporarily. The little house we rent now is pretty good, and I've tried very hard to make it look like home. It's not my real home, though. My certain image of what that is has blurred; but I know I'll know it when I see it, and I'm not there yet. Still looking for my home...


  1. I am a firm believer that a home is where you make it, with whom you make it.

    It sounds as though you will be exactly the right kind of mother. I do not fear for your children; they will be blessed.

    Here's hoping you find your home soon.


  2. This post is really amazing: honest, a touch raw, heartfelt. Any comment seems somehow flip, but let me just say I hear you, and I have full faith that you will be a great parent and you'll find home.

  3. For me, it's family. I'm always looking and longing for my family. It's not just that I lost my mother along the way, she also pushed my whole family away and apart. When I bought a house by myself, I was crushed. It didn't come with the family.

    Even though our mothers weren't perfect, we did get something from them. We did get love from them, or we would be sociopaths!