The daughter my mother wanted wasn’t a bit like me. That non-existent daughter was out-going, vivacious, social, popular, an exquisite dresser, definitely a musician, dancer or actress, with a flutter of adoring boyfriends, and accomplished at least in several things mother approved of. The only daughter my mom got, however, was me–shy, verbally uncommunicative, questioning, and practically anti-social. The only thing I did was draw.
It was clear to me from an early age that I did not measure up to my mother’s wishes. And confirmed when, as an adult artist, I proudly took slides of my many prize-winning paintings to show her. Her response: “It only looks like throw-up to me!”
But I didn’t hold that against her. I merely resorted to childhood shyness and left the room.
Thank God Mom had another child–a son who was everything she wanted and more. An excellent musician, singer, actor, writer, poet, smart, popular, handsome, athletic, good, kind, caring, moral, social, religiously devout, president of everything, skilled businessman, honestly admired by me as well as our parents and everyone who knew him. In his starlight my flaws could hide in the shadows. Left to myself, I was free to make art to my heart’s content.
Mom loved my children. She and my eldest son shared an interest in stamp collecting, baking, and old cars (her dad, whom she worshipped, was majorly important in the early automotive industry). She was also proud of my second son’s athleticism, and my daughter who was budding into the daughter my mother wished she’d had. At least I gave her great grandkids! See, Mom, if you’re listening from heaven (which I don’t believe is possible nor a place), you got what you wanted, you just had to wait a generation.
Some moms wait what seems an eternity to become moms. They live to be moms, decorating baby’s room months before her arrival, planning baby’s future before she appears. Some moms go through agony to get pregnant. Others avoid motherhood every way possible. And still others–60% of all moms seeking abortion–are already mothers of one or more kids. They are usually single, economically stranded, five times more likely to be black or brown than white, and they know full well another child to feed, clothe, provide for, will mean devastation for all concerned.
As I write, we are learning Roe v. Wade is likely to be overturned, so I ask, once it’s overturned, who will take care of all these black and brown babies? Will the white Evangelicals who’ve pushed their non-scientific religious views on American citizenry via the Supreme Court? I suppose Judges Alito and Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barret are eagerly waiting in the wings to adopt them all. With judges’ salaries ten times the size of a single Hispanic or Black mom’s wages, they should manage quite nicely to adopt several babies apiece. They could do what a single mom can’t while working a full-time job, barely managing to put food on the table, pay rent and daycare. Day care ought not be a problem for the judges, though it is a tragedy for American families, be they headed by a single woman or even a two-wage couple.
But c’mon guys (and it is always guys who are the most prevalent anti-abortionists)–it’s HER body, not yours! You use HER body for your enjoyment and service, but that doesn’t give you the right to prevent HER rights to HER own body!
Who provides the intelligent loving care required to raise a child? Mom does! She gives unselfishly (often to her own detriment) to meet her children’s needs. She gives them values, guidance, memories. That living being who was part of her, grew in her body, came out of her womb, is never forgotten. That sweet little face smiling up at her belongs to her. She adores her child–always. Though there are hard days mixed in, Moms never stop loving. My mother, an amazing seamstress, made me elegant prom dresses and even ones for girls in the local orphanage. You see, she loved us all.
Moms deserve a day to be celebrated. To sleep longer than usual, to have someone else make dinner or take care of the kids, and to dance or play music or take a hike or do whatever makes moms happy to be alive. For whether they were marvelous–or as imperfect as their kids–we all had mothers and love them to the end.
Artwork: Mother and Child, framed pastel, 29 1/2″ x 35″, NFS. Not for sale, this lovely painting is of my daughter and her daughter but represents the sweet joy of universal motherhood. It hangs in my home; one day it will hang in theirs.