My Mother’s Birthday

Oletha with treeDear Children,

Here it is – Mom’s birthday again. Will I ever get better at expressing my feelings about my mother?  I know that the longer I live, the more I understand both her and myself. Observing her difficulty in making connection is an object lesson in love.

In the years when you were under my guidance you saw my bad attitude. Sadly, as the years went by, how I felt about my mother was exactly how I expected you to feel about me. And so, working through my own feelings has helped me see her more clearly. (And I can impose my understanding and my version of her story onto her without opposition. LOL)

Her parents died in my childhood and so I didn’t see who fed Mom’s yearning for perfection. Her fear of “deficit” went far beyond physical needs.  She was an adventurer and seeker – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. To see herself as wanting in any role sent her into a visible spiral of self-examination and rationalization.

I can see this spirit shimmering like fairy dust on the shoulders of many of her descendants. What the generations have gained from my mother will take a entire post.* Today, though we are talking about those lessons in love – and her lifelong struggle.

Her difficulties throughout her marriages may have had as much to do with her innate inability to see herself as loving and lovable.  I think it also played into her relationships with her children and her erratic, usually quite superficial, relationships with her grandchildren. Her constant appraisal of whether or not she was valued and loved got in her way. (Not to mention that most of her daughters held some degree of animosity toward her which would have been difficult to overcome.) I think was hard for her to imagine herself immersed in the family story when she felt herself clinging to the fringes.

I understand her. Even though I have a wonderful relationship with each of you and with my grandchildren, it’s sometimes difficult for me to feel that it is enough. It’s hard to believe that you to want to see me. I feel that I am more of an obligation. Through the years I have searched to see a place for me in your lives when there is nothing concrete to do for you.

And then I remember my mother – what I needed from her. I would have loved to have felt that her support as a parent was a constant, and that I could have turned to her with life questions (marriage, child-rearing, etc). I have wished that I could have talked easily with her as a friend without fear of hurting her feelings. Many times I have wished that she had lost her ideal of what a daughter should be and could have seen me as who I was – loving me because of it and in spite of it. What  a joy it would have been to have felt her love pouring over me.

Never have I wished that she had bought me things or done my dishes. Never have I thought she didn’t do enough to help me around my house. I haven’t even regretted  silly or inappropriate things she said – those memories have made great stories through the years.

Knowing what I wanted from my own mother makes my job easier and it translates to my role as a mother and grandmother. My only job now is to deeply and continually love each person who is in this world because I was here first. It’s my job to let you know by everything I say and do that you are loved and accepted exactly as you are. Doesn’t that sound right and true?

It doesn’t even matter if I say or do it well – the stories can live on after me, causing laughter and hilarity each time they are told (and hopefully not too much angst).

I wish Mom could have enjoyed her life without needing to receive constant showers of praise and attention from her children. Most of us don’t get those kudos during our lifetime. I wish she had known that her wonderful traits* would eventually be cherished and her bad ones laughed into legend. (This would feed her silly streak if she could get over herself enough!)

Wish a Happy Birthday to my Mom, dear children.  Little did you know she would be teaching an important lesson on love.


*Maybe on Mother’s Day we’ll talk about the good stuff!




  1. I guess Mothers have special places in all our hearts irrespective of what kind of relationships we had growing up with them. I did not have to experience any breakdown in mental faculties in my mother’s last years but her physical deterioration was tough to handle and her emotional breakdown whenever she thought of her husband’s philandering ways was also something that I wish I had not had to experience. In the end, I was holding her hands when she went for the last time and that scene comes back to haunt me quite often. Like you, I wish that she could have had a different life, but she did get to experience being spoilt silly in four households after she finally left her husband. And I had to handle the husband’s resentment that he did not get the same treatment! I learnt very valuable lessons.


  2. Some of us may not have the fortune of good memories … whisked away as a toddler into the abyss.

    Love the quote …to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
    blessings ~ maxi


  3. As I read this, I could only think you were describing MY mother rather than HER (and your) mother. I have similar wishes and thank you for putting those feelings we all have on to words.


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