Monday, April 23, 2007

What About The Rest Of Us?

Written by Sara from Suburban Oblivion

I got my copy of Redbook magazine a couple of days ago. This is usually an exciting thing for me- I admit I love stealing 5 minutes here and there and hiding in the bathroom to read about all the things people do and wear and buy when they aren’t the mother to 3 kids. I know a lot of women with families do read this magazine, but they have so much content that is NOT about children that reading it makes me feel like for 5 minutes, I am not just someone’s mom. I am woman, hear me roar.

As I began to flip through the pages of the new May issue, my heart sank. This was not just any issue; it was the Mother’s Day edition. Then as I continued towards the back cover, I first was irritated, and finally became angry. Page after page, piece after piece on wonderful, cookie-baking, business-owning, charity-driven, self-sacrificing Mother of the Year nominees.

What about the rest of us?

Try as I might I couldn’t find a single page pertaining to my own history with the woman who gave me life. There were no “20 Ways to Celebrate Not Turning Out Like Her”. Nothing about women who had dealt with abuse at the hands of their mothers, yet managed to break that cycle and not pass it down to their own children. No pretty little poems for those who witnessed more than any child ever should of drug abuse, no song lyrics about mothers having affairs on the fathers, no opinion pieces from those who finally, for the sake of their own sanity, broke ties and never looked back. Nothing but happy, happy, happy little bits of fluff for happy little families.

Society ingrains in you the idea that the mother is the most sacred of all things, and because her blood runs through your veins, and she gave you life, she is to be all but worshipped. What society (as well as Redbook) fails to prepare you for is if you are instead born to the kind of parent who prefers to worry more about their desires than their child’s needs. Those preaching the bond of family suddenly fall silent, and you are left to deal with it alone, while all around you the world celebrates the gift of motherhood.

They say it takes all kinds, and I believe that. I believe most women probably are good mothers, and I try my best to be one of them. I believe that cutting my mother out of my life was one of the healthiest things I have ever done for myself, despite what society thinks. I also believe that the world has a lot of women like me who might look at a Mother’s Day issue of a magazine and hope that maybe there is some acknowledgment out there that we are ok, and that not every mother is worth celebrating.


Mahesha Iddagoda said...

You might be right. Every mother is not up to the standard of a perfect mother. But mother is the person who brought you into this world, gave you a human life. As a human being you can do lot of good things. Your mother at least carried you in her for nine months. Isn't that enough? She could have refused that too. If she did that you will not be here. Think of the chance you got because of her. No matter whom she is, mother is the person we should respect before anybody, She gave us life.

Surviving Motherhood said...

It takes a lot of guts to come to place away from your usual blog readers and blogging support system and write something like this, well done.

To be honest I don't think many people mothers or fathers live up to those supposed role models of impossibly perfect parents - I'm pretty sure I won't manage it, i'm just not a cookie baking, halloween costume making kind of person - but some parents fall so way outside of what are even considered to be the basic parenting boundaries that you are right, they don't deserve celebrating.

Thank you for having the guts to stand up and say it, I know for a fact there are plenty of other people out there that would agree if only they didn't feel that society would demonise them for saying such terrible things about the woman that gave them life.


There is much much more required of a person than just giving birth to make them a mother...

Suburban Oblivion said...

Thanks so much for allowing me to do this. It is a HUGE change from my usual stuff, but probably the one that has the most of me in it. Writing it was not difficult, it practically wrote itself. Sending it on the other hand was not as easy.

I do agree that she did give birth to me and is afforded some small measure of respect for that. But that does not negate years of physical and emotional abuse. Bringing me into the world does not take away being beaten to the point of bruises, or being blamed for putting her in a mental hospital, only to later find out she went in for cocaine rehab. Any alleycat can give birth, it takes a little more to raise a child with love and dignity.

Anonymous said...

Great job Sara! Alot of people won't "get it", but that is because they had cookie baking mamas.

JohnH985 said...

Very well written and from the heart. I agree with you, it's something I've said for years. Just because someone gives birth to you that doesn't make them a Mother. There are some people out there that just should simply not be mothers.

Lori G. said...

Congratulations on your post and your courage to write about something so personal. People do forget that all holidays are not always happy for people.

Good for you that you are finding a way for yourself to be healthy rather than staying in a situation that would no doubt, continue to be unhealthy.

I do think family is pretty sacred and I can cut mine some slack, but no one should have to stick around and take abuse and/or neglect. Being a mother is not a license to abuse at will. It follows that if a parent raises their child in a respectful, loving way, they will/should receive that same love and respect.

Whew. I'll step down now. I think your first commenter got me. :)

Queen Heather said...

I'm sorry but I don't think breaking ties with a unhealthy relationship necessarily equates disrespect. And I have to wonder about the respect the mother showed for the child by abusing her??

I usually don't disagree with comments when I put in my own comment but I can't help it this time. I know Sara personally & also have seen in my own life when cutting a mother out of your life is the best thing for you.

Great blog Sara!

~Diane said...

How odd to me that while dealing with my husband's previous relationship and the child that resulted from said relationship, I would have to visit the child support enforcement office to drop a payment off and there were posters all over the walls. What struck me as odd were the sayings such as anyone can be a father but it takes a real man to be a dad. I was enraged at the time being a mere newly wed and expecting our first born. Why was I enraged, you might ask as there's MOUNDS of deadbeat dads??? Well there ARE DEADBEAT MOMS!!! They weren't called out onto those walls as the fathers were. After every bit of abuse my husband suffered, his biological father abandoned him and never paid a dime in support and his stepfather beat him almost daily and eventually left his mother, he IS a GOOD FATHER. How dare society automatically worship the mother as the victim? There were no signs pertaining to his case at all!

Sorry that you caught your child's mother in bed with another man when you came home from a lunch break to find your two year old unattended, playing alone with the front door open. Pay your support.

Sorry to hear that your child support is being used for her mother's drug addiction and every time you see your daughter she's wearing no clothes except for underwear and is dirty. Pay your support.

Sorry to hear that your little girl is now calling the neighborhood crack dealer daddy and you by your first name because now her mommy is pregnant with his kid. Pay your support.

Yes we know she lives in cat urine, with drug dealers, in a flop house with drug addicts. Yes we know WIC food is the only food she gets to eat when it isn't bartered for another drug. Sorry to hear she's always sick and is developmentally delayed because apparently Barney and Cartoon Network doesn't teach enough for 24 hours a day. We understand that a four year old probably shouldn't be on a mood stabilizer, ritalin, and a sleeping pill at age four. And that at the age of 11 she still takes a sippy cup to bed and still wets it nightly. Sorry about your luck, pay your support.

And finally, sorry to hear that the child is probably not yours after all these years but she knew you would stay and SINCE you signed the birth certificate, it's too late for a DNA test. PAY YOUR SUPPORT.

After years and years of my own abuse from my adopted mother, I set out to not be a super mom but to be a real MOM. I don't bake cookies, sew clothing, attend every field trip, or buy them a lot of toys. I practice a healthy and loving relationship with their father and try to instill into them values and hard work. And then find my birthmother and four siblings that are so beyond help, just took away all of my childhood fantasies of what MY mother was. She gave me life and that's it. She has my respect for the sacrifice that she made however, I benefitted from NOT knowing her my whole life. I benefitted from being taught by a truly sick woman and enduring years of abuse as to what a mother shouldn't be. I am STRONG because I could break the cycle of abuse. How dare someone criticize or look down on me for not letting my kids experience an ounce of my childhood. One gave me life and the other gave me a name, neither of them taught me how to love or to nurture which by society's standard is what a mother should be. And society seems to beleive that to seperate a child from its mother is wrong.

When I see the hurt and anger in my stepdaughter's eyes, my heart cries for her. I hope one day she will be strong like I was and so many other women have been, to stop the cycle and to be a good mom.

ANY woman can become a mother but it takes a REAL WOMAN to be a MOM.

Author Mom with Dogs said...

Hmmm. But you ARE in those pages of Redbook. You HAVE done it differently for your kids, and I bet when they grow up and read Redbook, they'll say, "Yep, that's my mom they're talking about, even though that's not her name."

So you can't find your growing up scenario in those pages, and that's unfortunate, but you are not your growing up anymore. You are you now, being the best mom you know how.

melody said...

My youngest three sons are gifts by adoption. The women who gave birth to them abused them before and after their births. I'm not certain that demands any level of respect. My sons, of course, have to live with the consequences, struggles, for their entire lives.

Good job in speaking your heart and mind.

Amanda said...

The magazines, news shows and society miss the boat quite often as they paint the world of relationships with pastel broad strokes.

Congratulations for doing something that, though the right decision for your health, must have come at great emotional expense.

Anonymous said...

I truly am in touch with all your emotions. My Mother was and still is a very verbally abusive (some physical too) individual. She alienated me most of my life and then tried to inflict that same control over my own children.

On Mother's Day, I would stand in the card section for hours feeling as you did when you read Redbook. NONE of the cards said ANYTHING that I felt was appropriate.

How could I possible buy a card that said "Thanks for being there" or "I am blessed to have you as a Mom", etc? NONE of the cards rang true. Nope, I wanted a card that said thanks for being DESTRUCTIVE, ABUSIVE, CONTROLLING, and SCREWING UP MY HEAD.

I spent a LOT of my life in therapy over this woman. I always thought I would hate her someday FINALLY. But, it is not in me. She is now 74, lonely by her own choices, and almost pathetic. I feel sorry for her. Her time has finally come to see the pain she caused everyone around her.

My sisters and NONE of her grandchildren (including mine) will have anything to do with her. Ironically I am the ONLY one she can count on now.

I always thought I wanted revenge but never acted on it. I am glad I didn't. Instead, I vowed to become a better Mother, parent, and friend then she ever dreamed of being. I succeeded where she failed and that was revenge enough for me.

Your article is well written and I love it. Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day!

Sensible One said...

Thank you for writing this! It must have taken a lot of courage to do so - I know from personal experience that most people look at anything other than absolute adoration toward one's own mother as a form of high treason. I too have had to cut all ties with my mother, for no other reason than self-preservation and my family's well-being. And sometimes, it's nice to know I'm not alone...!

Doggy Mama said...

I commend you for rising above your abusive past and turning it around while raising your own family. Kudos to you.

It's funny, because I usually feel the exact same way when I read/see Mother's Day stories - but in the opposite direction.

I find that usually talk shows and magazine articles pick Mothers and other people to feature who have been abused, abandoned, and generally mistreated, and kind of ignore the people who say, "Look, I had a great life with great parents - how about recognizing them for a change?"

So I guess it's good to have a balance... yes, not everyone was able to grow up with loving, supportive parents (like I was blessed to have), but the media should represent ALL types of families... not just the good, not just the bad.

nutmeg said...

Wow, Sara, your writing has really created an engaging stir. This is why I gave the post the Thinking Blogger Award. We feel unfomfortable when someone disses a mother. It's a cultural thing, I think. In a society where close to 50% of all children are being raised by a single mother, we can dis the fathers far more easily. I also think we all look inward at ourselves as mothers when we read your words. Every mother feels deep down inside that we could be doing a better job and that feeling hurts. I commend you for this thoughtful piece!

Anonymous said...

Maheshda has it wrong. Being carried in the oven for 9 months is NOT enough. Parents are supposed to raise their kids after birth, not beat them. 9 months is only the beginning, not the end.

Signed me,


Stefanie said...

We are like Brothas from anotha Motha only from like the same mother. Just wait til my post about my biological father whose been married 4 times and kept calling me for money until I cut him out too. Why do I still feel guilty? I guess that's something for 10 more years of therapy.

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